LIHU’E – Kaua’i gasoline dealers, as weary as consumers are of continually
rising gas prices, are hoping increased Middle East oil production and
decreased mainland demand will lead to lower gas prices later this
Customers at the pump, though, are skeptical to downright angry. They
say gas station owners should bite a bit more of the bullet instead of passing
all price increases onto consumers.
The price of gas “shot up by 50 cents
(a gallon) in no time, and it just stayed there,” said Roger Sasaki, who drives
to both ends of the island at least once a week delivering janitorial
His weekly gas bill is $40, and his company’s gas allowance
doesn’t cover his expenses, he said.
“Me, I think it’s more of a case of
price-fixing,” with all the dealers getting together to set a profitable price,
He said when dealer costs go down, there should be a
corresponding reduction in the price. But he feels local dealers know they can
get the higher pump price by simply passing on the higher prices they must pay
But Glen Konishi, of Gary’s Service Inc., a Chevron dealer
on Kuhio Highway in Lihu’e, said he can’t remember the last time his supplier
lowered the price he pays for a gallon of fuel.
Sasaki, of Kapa’a, has
equipped his business van with truck tires to improve fuel efficiency, and like
many drivers is taking other steps to try to reduce the high cost of
His family once operated a trucking company, which used diesel
fuel at a time diesel cost around one-fourth of the cost of unleaded gasoline.
Now, diesel costs more than regular gas, and Sasaki can’t imagine
“What’s going on?” he wondered.
Sasaki figures the island’s
trucking companies are hurting from escalating diesel fuel costs.
want kama’aina discount,” said one man, an owner of a landscape company with
three trucks. Yesterday in Lihu’e, it cost him $69 to top off his work truck’s
tank, and before he started fueling it was one-fourth full.
and other islands have reduced pump prices, “but why not here? Gas prices could
be cheaper,” said the small-businessman, claiming that station owners could
probably survive while taking a bit less profit per gallon.
A little over a
week ago, prices dealers pay suppliers for gas went up two cents on all grades,
said Konishi. “So the latest trend is still upward. It never went down,” he
said of fuel prices since before the start of summer.
Prices would go up,
sometimes stay the same for a few weeks, then go up again, he
People complain at the pumps about what seems to be the
ever-rising price of gas, Konishi said, “because the price has gone up so much.
But I’m looking for the prices to start going down.” But not until November or
December, he cautioned.
He is hoping a drop in demand associated with the
end of the summer vacation driving season nationwide will mean an easing of
“I hope so. It’s supposed to,” he said. “Theoretically, it’s
supposed to happen.”
On Monday, prices for a gallon of regular unleaded
gasoline on Kaua’i hovered right around $2 a gallon at various stations, with
premium between $2.24 to $2.28 a gallon.
That’s a drop in the tank, though,
compared to what rental-car companies are allowed to charge customers who
choose to fill up at the companies’ pumps instead of returning the car full of
One rental-car company manager, who did not want his name or company
name used, confirmed that the state Public Utilities Commission allows
rental-car companies to charge up to 1.5 times the local average pump
Under the commission calculation method, the prices at five service
stations close to the airport are averaged. The rental-car companies can charge
up to 1.5 times that average. The pump price at most rental-car companies at
Lihu’e Airport last week was around $3.03, meaning the companies are taking
full advantage of the allowance.
Staff writer Paul C. Curtis can be
reached at 245-3681 (ext. 224) and [
(Photo by Dennis Fujimoto)