Life with gas cap same as usual

Life under the state’s gas cap is pretty much the same as life before the law took effect Thursday.

The price of gas continues to defy gravity.

According to Martin Rice, who surveys all 20 Kaua‘i gasoline station each Thursday for his weekly report to The Garden Island, gasoline prices jumped eight cents a gallon last week, and 23 cents since Aug. 11.

The average price of regular at all 20 stations was $3.08 last week, up from $3 the week before. The average cost of premium was $3.29 last week, up from $3.20 the week before, while diesel was at $3.31 last week, up from $3.24 the week before.

Here were the lowest gas prices reported in Thursday’s Rice report:

  • Regular: $3.029 at the Waimea 76; $3.049 at the Shell stations in Hanapepe and Puhi, and Aloha Fuels in Kapahi; $3.059 at the Shell Stations in Wailua and Hanama‘ulu, and $3.069 at the Chevron stations in Koloa and on Rice Street in Lihu‘e, and the Kukui Grove 76;
  • Premium: $3.249 at Aloha Fuels in Kapahi, Puhi Shell and Waimea 76; $3.259 at the Shell stations in Hanama‘ulu and Wailua; $3.269 at the Chevron Stations in Koloa, Kapa‘a and on Rice Street in Lihu‘e, and the Hanapepe Shell, and $3.279 at the Kalaheo 76 and the Shell stations in Kapa‘a and Kilauea;
  • Diesel: $3.229 at Aloha Fuels and $3.289 at Kalaheo Chevron.

The Princeville Chevron is open and running, and in the process of charging the highest on-island prices, $3.199 for regular and $3.399 for premium, according to the Rice report.

As of Sept. 1, gas prices have increased 22.2 percent from the same point in 2004, according to Rice.

However onerous Hawai‘i gasoline prices might seem, they pale in comparison to post-Hurricane Katrina Mainland prices.

Regular unleaded gasoline was selling for $5.87 a gallon in Stockbrige, Ga. near Atlanta. The price at the pump in Atlanta was $3.99, according to a Sept. 2 report in USA Today.

Rice discounted some media reports that Hawai‘i gas prices were impacted by the hurricane which has devastated much of the Gulf Coast and laid waste to New Orleans. He said he did not know how Kaua‘i’s gas prices could be effected by the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina when the state’s oil supply comes largely from Pacific-Rim countries and not from the Gulf of Mexico.

Under the price-cap formula created by members of the state Legislature and implemented by members of the state Public Utilities Commission effective last Thursday, Sept. 1, the wholesale gas price cap for Kaua‘i for a gallon of unleaded regular gasoline was set at $2.56, some 34 cents higher than the PUC’s initial pricing last week, and 27 cents higher than set by PUC members in their amended prices good from Thursday, Sept. 1 through yesterday, Sunday, Sept. 4.

Take that base price of $2.56, then add about 61 cents in taxes, and the total is $3.17. This total does not include the dealer mark-up at the pump, which is usually about 12 cents a gallon.

According to Gov. Linda Lingle, the dramatic price increase reflects recent events on the Mainland that have impacted the national-gasoline market, specifically Hurricane Katrina, which have disrupted oil and petroleum product delivery from the Gulf Coast.

Spot prices, used for the base-price calculation, went up to $2.14 last week, compared to $1.87 in the previous week.

For the week beginning today, Monday, Sept. 5, Labor Day, O‘ahu’s wholesale cap starts at $2.43, midgrade at $2.48, and premium at $2.52; for Kaua‘i, regular, $2.57, midgrade, $2.62, and premium, $2.66; for Maui, excluding Hana, regular, $2.56, midgrade, $2.62, and premium, $2.66.

The baseline price established by members of the state Legislature under the wholesale-price-cap law and used by PUC members is the weekly average of the daily spot price for Los Angeles, the U.S. Gulf Coast, and New York.

The weekly cap established by members of the PUC sets the maximum amount officials at the oil companies can charge for wholesale gasoline.

Gas prices in Lihu‘e last night ranged from $3.04 to $3.09 for a gallon of self-serve regular.

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