Gas prices continue to rise in county, state
Increase due to a rise in demand as more Coloradans travel, commute to work
Any local or tourist who has made the drive from Denver to Summit County knows that gas prices increase the farther west you travel. This is not new news, but just how significantly gas prices are increasing in the county is troubling visitors and residents alike.
According to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, gas prices were sitting at about $2.53 per gallon in the first week of January. On Saturday, May 15, prices were hitting $3.18. Compared with the day before, the price for gas jumped around 10 cents at the gas station at City Market in Dillon.
So why the increase?
AAA Colorado says it’s because of an increase in demand for gas. An April 26 news release said that U.S. gasoline demand recorded its second-highest measurement since mid-March 2020, indicating that motorists are filling up more often.
“As the vaccine rollout continues, consumer confidence continues to surge,” said Cassie Tanner, deputy regional director of public affairs for AAA, in the news release. “That means more folks are traveling — and some are returning to work, so they’re commuting more. Sure, we’re paying more at the pump than we were a year ago, but more expensive gas prices tend to reflect a rebounding domestic economy — something we’ve all been hoping for since last year.”
Both the county and state’s increase in gas prices doesn’t have to do with the recent ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline. According to the Denver Post, the state doesn’t depend on the Colonial Pipeline, which runs from Houston to the New York Harbor.
Though gas prices are increasing, it’s not deterring some from making road trips. Andrew Wilkinson from Des Moines, Iowa, was filling up his tank at the gas station at City Market on Saturday and said prices were not something he considered when planning a trip to the county.
“Gas prices weren’t really on our list of things to look for,” Wilkinson said.
Wilkinson said prices in Des Moines were similar to the county and that it usually costs him around $35 to fill up his tank of a Toyota SUV. On Saturday, it cost around $48.
Summit County resident Karen Gage said she feels annoyed by the increase in prices and wishes prices locally could be comparable to Denver.
“I was irritated that it jumped that high,” Gage said. “I understand that gas prices are going up, but 10 cents seemed a little over the top for one day.”
Gage said she was recently in Denver and paid about 20 cents less than what she paid on Saturday. Gage drives a Toyota sedan and said it usually costs her around $35 to fill up.
Gas prices don’t seem to be impacting what kind of cars are bought locally. Ryan Ramsay, president and general manager of Summit Ford, Inc., said when gas prices increased to over $5 in 2011, the dealership would see more customers who were looking to trade in their larger vehicles for something smaller.
Right now, the current trend he’s seeing is that more people are wanting to buy vehicles that suit their outdoors interests.
“I think a lot of people are choosing vehicles that allow them to do more outdoor activities, which usually involve hauling or towing something, for example, a travel trailer. We’re seeing a lot of that right now,” Ramsay said. “We’re also seeing a lot of demand in the large van market where people are loading their mountain bikes or motorcycles, or they’re even turning them into recreational vehicles, like RVs.”
Though he’s not seeing the impact of rising gas prices at the dealership yet, Ramsay noted that it’s always a conversation and that it can have a significant impact on a driver’s wallet. Ramsay laid out an example: Say a driver has a vehicle that gets 20 miles to the gallon and on average drives 15,000 miles a year. A simple dollar increase in gas can amount to a large chunk of change.
“If you own a vehicle that gets 20 miles to the gallon and gas goes from $2.50 to $3.50, that’s a dollar increase,” Ramsay said. “The average driver drives about 15,000 miles a year. So if you’ve got a vehicle that’s driving 15,000 miles a year and getting 20 miles to the gallon, that’s an additional $750 a year in gasoline costs or an additional $62.50 a month.”
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