Lindstrom wants action on gas prices
SUMMIT COUNTY – Folks in the High Country are increasingly fuming over the typically high fuel prices found here in the mountains. For state representative Gary Lindstrom, a Democrat whose district includes Summit and Eagle counties, the growing gulf in gas prices has never been easily explained.”It’s always been a mystery to me,” Lindstrom said. “I’ve never been able to figure out why there was such a discrepancy between the prices.”Lindstrom, though, says he might become a squeakier wheel when it comes to the High Country fuel dilemma.
“I’m considering asking the attorney general to conduct an investigation concerning price fixing in the mountain areas … if this thing becomes protracted,” Lindstrom said. Vail typically has some of the most expensive gas in the state. Gas was $2.69 for a gallon of unleaded in Vail on Monday, while some stations in the Denver area were selling unleaded gallons for as low as $2.14. Summit County unleaded prices ranged from $2.65 to $2.80 Monday.Lindstrom said his next step could be writing a letter to Colorado Attorney General John Suthers asking for an investigation of the price difference.While that dramatic step is a bit of a last resort, Lindstrom hopes that simply calling attention to the issue might make a difference to motorists and businesses in the mountains, he said. “Every time I’ve raised the volume on my complaining, it seems like gas prices have dropped,” Lindstrom said.
The state’s Transportation Committee, of which Lindstrom is a member, called oil and gas retailers and refiners before them earlier this year for a hearing on fuel costs. The committee determined fuel haulers are paid a premium to run fuel into the High Country, but with differences in price upwards of 50 cents a gallon, the math doesn’t add up. That premium paid to haulers is far less than the difference an added half-dollar makes selling an entire tanker full of fuel.But prices do fluctuate, the committee determined, and local pricing is a result of local market forces. While retailers start at a baseline price each morning recommended by regional corporate offices and suppliers, most station managers check out the local competition and adjust their prices accordingly.Employees at local gas stations such as the Loaf ‘n Jug in Frisco and Breckenridge confirmed that type of process goes on each morning.”It’s a free market issue, I think. Communities are paying what the gas companies are asking them to pay,” Lindstrom said. “If we don’t pay it, demand drops, and they’ll drop their prices.”
That’s the most immediate action Summit County locals can take, Lindstrom recommended – stop buying gas when possible in Summit County. For his part, Lindstrom drives to Denver almost every day, and says he fills up in Golden.A representative for Colorado Attorney General Suthers deferred comment on the issue until a formal request for an investigation was filed.Vail, Colorado