As California gas prices push past $4 a gallon for the first time in five years, drivers who fill up in Turlock are feeling the pain at the pump.
According to AAA Northern California, the average price of the state’s unleaded regular gas was $4.024 on April 19, compared to the national average of $2.839. The average price of gas in Stanislaus County is $3.878. California’s gas price average has increased 40 cents since the beginning of the month — the most expensive pump prices seen in the state since July 2014.
California’s high gas prices caused the national average to increase for the ninth straight week, costing Americans about $200 million more at the pumps per day.
“The effect of rising prices isn’t about to let up as a spate of refinery outages on the West Coast and in California has given way to a tightening of summer blended gasoline in advance of summer driving season set to kick off in just over a month,” GasBuddy petroleum analyst Dan McTeague said. “Even with early signs of markets reaching their heights for California spec fuel, the damage has been done and gas prices are still playing catch up to the highs of April over the next couple of weeks.”
According to McTeague, rising gasoline prices have yet to hit their peak, which will most likely come at the end of the month or early May.
In Turlock, travelers can find the cheapest gas in town at the Arco station on Lander Avenue for $3.61. The most expensive gas in the city can be found at Chevron on Geer Road for $4.09, and the town’s average price is $3.89.
Atwater resident Trena Pacheco fills up in Turlock almost every day, she said, between visiting her children in Delhi, her mother in Hilmar and shopping in town. She said she used to be able to fill her tank up for about $30 prior to the gas hikes, but now spends about $40 every time she visits the pump.
“It’s affecting my pocketbook,” she said. “It seems like it goes up five or 10 cents almost every time I need gas. I don’t understand how they can get away with that.”
According to McTeague, the increase in gasoline prices is the result of a supply crunch due to refinery upsets in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Adding to the issue is massive flooding that occurred throughout parts of the Midwest, which affected ethanol blends and was expected to cause increases at coastal area pumps due to distribution disruptions.
McTeague predicts that prices could rise another 10 cents, and that’s assuming that refineries are able to resume production levels. Considering California also has among the highest gas taxes in the country, it doesn’t appear as if there will be any near-term relief on the horizon.