Gas prices expected to drop

Gas prices on Kaua’i are scheduled to drop dramatically this week, by as much as 45 cents per gallon for regular, according to the maximum pre-tax wholesale gasoline cap price set by members of the state Public Utilities Commission (PUC).

Martin Rice, author of the Rice Report, which appears weekly, had this advice.

“It may be a few days after the Monday (tomorrow, Monday, Oct. 17) onset before those marquees start reflecting the newer prices. If you can hold off buying until (later this) week, it will be worth your while.”

Rice surveys all 20 of Kaua’i’s gas stations each Thursday to establish price trends and best gasoline values at the pump.

He has a bit more advice for those gasoline retailers caught in the middle of price fluctuations and inventory worries.

“Might I suggest that you petition your ‘Big Oil’ suppliers for a subsidy? Although Mobil-Exxon does not serve the Kaua’i market, it was reported to me that that company has just announced America’s biggest net-profit-quarter ever (computed on the third quarter of this year),” said Rice.

“If that’s an indication of an industry-wide trend, then the retailers have a right to ask for some financial assistance, since those obscene profits were made at the people’s expense and also, I might add, by the tacit permission of Gov. Linda Lingle,” Rice said.

The gas-cap law was a Democratic initiative put forth during the administration of former Gov. Ben Cayetano.

Using the Lundberg method of price-averaging for national-comparison purposes, Kaua’i’s across-the-board gas prices were $3.69 last week, about nine cents higher than the previous week’s average.

The Lundberg method is used to compute an average of all combined grades of gasoline, and is the standard for national reporting, according to Rice.

Best prices by grade from Thursday’s survey of all 20 of Kaua’i’s gas stations reflects a general overall uniformity in pricing.

. Regular:

$3.579 at Aloha Fuels in Kapahi, and the Shell stations in Wailua and Puhi;

$3.589 at the 76 stations in Waimea and Kalaheo, and the Shell stations in Hanapepe and Hanama’ulu.

Rice said these seven stations, which represent about a third of the island’s retailers, have consistently been the best-priced gas stations since the inception of the gas cap law Sept. 1.

. Premium:

$3.779 at Aloha Fuels in Kapahi, and the Shell stations in Puhi and Wailua;

$3.789 at the 76s in Kalaheo and Waimea, and the Shell in Hanama’ulu.

. Diesel:

$3.489 at Kalaheo Chevron;

$3.559 at Aloha Fuels in Kapahi.

The state average for a gallon of unleaded gasoline as of Friday, Oct. 14, was $3.51, the highest in the nation, and $1.17 higher than the average price one year ago, according to the AAA (American Automobile Association) Daily Fuel Gauge Report.

The national average for a gallon of regular gasoline as of Oct. 14 was $2.81, down 12 cents in one week, and 83 cents higher than the same time last year, according to AAA reports.

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

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 prices for wholesale gas in Los Angeles, the U.S. Gulf Coast, and New York.

That price excludes taxes and dealer profit margins.

The current PUC rates are for the period from tomorrow, Monday, Oct. 17, through Sunday, Oct. 23.

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