September 14, 2006
It's a phenomenon many people are talking about. Go 30 miles west or south and gas prices can differ by $.20 or $.30. This is a price difference that has people wondering where's the relief.
"You know I think it is outrageous. I have a 16 gallon tank and it costs me $40 to fill up," said Kristan Green.
Green is one of many drivers getting hit hard by high gas prices here in the Charlottesville region. According to AAA Mid Atlantic, Charlottesville averages $2.59 a gallon, $.15 higher than the state average and a cent higher than the national average.
"Gasoline is a commodity. You can send it everywhere and it is exactly the same. It's the intensity of demand by local consumers that tends to drive price," said Peter Rodriguez.
Rodriguez is an Associate Professor at the Darden School of Business and has experience in the gas industry. He says many factors go into price including the area's cost of living.
"Gasoline in a highly commercial city with lots of high income folks around tends to be priced higher and that's Charlottesville," he said.
In fact historically, the Charlottesville region pays more at the pump than the statewide average. However, Rodriguez says the summer prices could have been much worse.
"We had a very mild hurricane season and supplies held up much better than anticipated in the wake of troubles in the Middle East. So we can all be happier than we would have been six months ago when everyone was predicting $3 gas this fall," he said.
This is a sentiment that doesn't help Kristan Green right now.
"I mean I work two jobs and 70 hours a week and there goes half my pay right there. It is really harsh right there," she said.
We talked to Tiger Fuel President David Sutton by telephone. He said that because the area does a smaller volume of sales compared to larger cities, the prices tend to go down slower. He also said that when prices spiked, they went up slower here. He did want to reassure people that prices are heading in the right direction.