you can do about Utah's high gasoline prices
By C. D Clawson
October 4, 2006 | Across the nation, headlines such
as,"Area gas falls below $2" are exciting many consumers.
In past months, it seemed that there was no end in sight
to the ever-increasing cost of mobility.
However, here in Utah, you wouldn't notice a difference.
Gas prices still hover in the $2.79 a gallon range --
45 cents above the national average -- while across
the country some communities such as Richmond, Minn.
and Springfield, Miss. are paying more than a dollar
less per gallon.
Observing the national and local trends, gas prices
have dropped at very different rates in recent months.
Since the mid-August peak, we have seen prices drop
about 20 cents from $2.97 to $2.79, while across the
country prices have dropped an average of 60 cents from
$2.97 to $2.33, according to AAA. That's a difference
of 45 cents per gallon. For those of us who fill up
once a week a 12-gallon tank, that's more than $5 more
that we pay every week. Forty-five cents may not seem
like much, but it adds up fast.
These numbers invite thought as to what we might do
with this extra cash were we to be so lucky. Go to the
movies? Have a nice dinner? The brutal reality is that
these prices take their toll not only on our frivolous
expenditures, but also on our everyday needs: food,
bills, and clothing. Gas companies offer many explanations:
Middle-East turmoil, refinery costs, low supply and
ever-increasing demand. Consumers have their own explanations:
corporate greed, gouging, etc. Turmoil continues as
usual in the Middle East, yet gas production is reportedly
higher and prices are lower than in recent months.
Gas companies allege that they must sell the more
expensive gas (bought weeks ago from refineries while
prices were still high) before they can start cutting
their prices. However, there was no necessity to sell
inexpensively refined gas when national gas prices began
to rise. At that time, the companies weren't selling
their cheap gas at a lower price.
Whether these explanations are true or false, valid
or invalid, legal or illegal, what really matters is
that Utah's consumers are paying too much for a day-to-day
Historically, Utah has been known for slightly lower
gas prices. Consumer outcries have resulted in the call
by local politicians for investigation, but in the mean
time, we need other real solutions -- ones that
will work for us right now.
One alternative given to consumers is to simply drive
less by using public transportation and car-pooling.
However, for many people, these alternatives, practical
as they are, simply are not a convenient option. The
solution: buy smarter. Shop around for the best price.
To inform themselves, consumers have many online resources
to find the best price including AOL's
price comparison guide. With their zip codes and
these sites, consumers can find easy-to-understand statistics
about the gas prices in their area, directions to these
stations, and national price comparisons.
Driving smarter through efficient driving and careful
maintenance also helps to cut costs. Utah's energy
website offers several suggestions which include
turning off the car when it will sit idle for more than
10 seconds, regularly changing filters as well as maintaining
wheel alignment and pressure.
As prices slowly drop and the government investigates
whether gas companies are meeting their obligation to
responsibly and ethically provide the public a basic
necessity, we have several options to voice our opinion
and change the economy. Driving and buying more effectively
will help to lower the demand and price of gasoline
through reduced consumption.
Choosing carefully where we shop and how we drive
will also help conserve what little we have in our pockets
so that the next time we'd like to go to the movies
or the next time the heating bill is due, we'll have
just enough money.