By Tonya Garner: CNJ staff writer
As regular unleaded gas prices continue falling, diesel fuel remains at a near-record high.
According to New Mexico AAA officials, diesel prices are up about 44 percent from last year while gasoline prices are up 22 percent over the same time period.
The hurricanes that swept across the Gulf Coast area in September stagnated offshore gasoline production and oil refining operations is only one of the reasons why diesel prices remain high, AAA officials said Friday. Officials also cited increased global demand, particularly in Asia and Europe.
Diesel prices in Clovis on Friday averaged $3.19 a gallon compared to $2.19 a gallon for gas. The high prices are affecting local business people who rely on diesel fuel in their day-to-day operations.
Tamara Phillips, an independent contractor for FedEx who delivers often to Cannon Air Force Base, said her route includes coast-to-coast stops. She said diesel prices are consistently higher than gas throughout the United States.
“I have to pay for my own fuel,” Phillips said, “so, it is really cutting into my profits.”
Tim Ashley, owner of Clovis Concrete Company, said his business is “transportation-intensive.” According to Ashley, everything his company does is fuel-related. He said he is seeing an increased rate in freight prices due to the fuel increase. “Prices have risen 20 percent,” Ashley said. “Ten percent of that is fuel.”
The business owner said he has had to increase his prices to counterbalance the increased overhead.
However, business remains steady. “We are still busy for this time of year,” Ashley said.
A representative of Parmer County Cotton Growers Cooperative said the cotton-ginning business is being negatively impacted as well. Diesel-powered trucks are needed to make multiple trips to the fields to haul in cotton. Since the trucks are owned and operated by the co-op, the hike in fuel costs is obviously influencing their profit margin, according to co-op representatives.
Businessowners are not the only ones having to make adjustments due to the expensive diesel prices.
Ben Hible, a retired Clovis resident and owner of a 2002 Ford F250 pickup truck, said it costs him around $85 to fill the tank. Hible said he and his wife normally take several annual trips pulling their fifth-wheel trailer. “We took one trip to Angel Fire this entire year,” Hible said. “That was all we could afford.”
According to Hible, he still drives the truck to the golf course and to tend to his day-to-day chores. Hible said he loves to go on fishing trips, but only goes now when a couple of buddies can come along to share fuel costs.
“I call this price-gouging,” Hible said. “I hope the governor sees this and does something.”
According to AAA officials, diesel prices are expected to remain the same for the remainder of the year.