Locals paying more for gas than most

Steamboat's average gas prices higher than statewide average

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— In Colorado, gas prices have recently increased by about 10 cents, but Steamboat Springs residents are paying more at the pump than most residents statewide.

According to a recent gas survey conducted by AAA Colorado, a gallon of regular, self-serve, unleaded gasoline costs about $1.67, which is about 17 cents higher than this time last year.

In Steamboat Springs, a gallon of regular, self-serve, unleaded gasoline costs consumers about $1.75.

"I think it sucks," Craig resident Joel Wallace said of gas prices as he pumped gas at a local Steamboat gas station. "It's a lot of money."

Wallace started to notice gas prices increasing about a week ago.

"Usually, it costs me $28 to fill it up," Wallace said, as he filled up his minivan's gas tank, which cost him $31.86. "It's now costing me four bucks more.

"This makes it hard, especially since I have to travel between Craig and Steamboat Springs."

The reason for the price increase is the wholesale price of gas for local gas stations has also increased.

Al Wilkinson, who is the manager of Ski Haus, began to notice wholesale gas prices starting to increase about three weeks ago.

"We are in a competitive market, so we try to stay in line with that," Wilkinson said. "When wholesale prices go up, we have to take a look at our prices."

Steamboat's and the state's average is also higher than the national average, the survey shows.

The national average for regular, self-serve, unleaded gasoline is $1.62, which is about a 20-cent increase from about a month ago. The current national average is also a few cents below the all-time high of $1.67, which was reached last June.

With Colorado's current average, the state is just 2.4 cents below the highest recorded average of $1.69, which was set June 30, 2000.

To put together the state average, AAA Colorado surveyed nine cities in the state.

Of the cities reported, Denver experienced the largest hike with a 12.5-cent increase to $1.65 a gallon. Other significant increases were seen in Colorado Springs, Grand Junction and Greeley.

Durango reported the smallest increase up 3.2 cents to $1.60.

Vail maintains the highest gas price of the cities reported with an average of $1.96 per gallon of regular unleaded gas.

According to the survey, the rising gas prices are largely attributable to tight supplies and the rising price of additives needed to hamper pollution in the summer months.

While crude oil supply is somewhat limited, the increase is based on refinery capacity, which cannot keep up with current demand, the survey states.

Steamboat Springs resident Mike Bush hopes gas prices will decrease soon.

"All I know is I have to stop and fill up more," Bush said, as he pumped close to six gallons of regular unleaded gas, which cost him $10. "It's way too much money."

However, Bush and the rest of Colorado may be in for a long summer.

AAA Colorado forecasts that with wholesale gasoline prices increasing, it is possible the nation will experience a new record-high retail gasoline price in the next few days or weeks. Some retail prices across the country are already at record levels.

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