Pricey at the pump

CNJ staff photo: Sharna Johnson Larry Devaney fills his tank Thursday at a gas station on Mabry Drive. An electrician from Melrose, Devaney said when it comes to rising gas prices, “you got to pass (the cost) down to the customer. It’s not making things easy.”

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

A recent spike in local gas prices has residents reeling at the pumps.

This week, prices that have been steadily creeping up over recent months, jumped about 10 cents on the gallon.

“They hit us like this every summer,” Clovis resident Kelli Gallegos said Wednesday. “It’s getting ridiculous.”

With $11 cash, Gallegos said at lunchtime she stopped and put $5 in her vehicle, holding back the rest for her meal. She got 1.7 gallons.
“That’s ridiculous,” she said. “I’m outraged.”

At an average of $2.80 a gallon for unleaded gasoline, according to AAA New Mexico, prices at the pump Thursday in Clovis actually aren’t much higher this year. There has been an increase of about 8 cents since last year.

However, this month prices have climbed about 15 cents in the last four weeks, with the biggest jump of almost 10 cents occurring the last few days, according to data from AAA New Mexico.

Part of the reason lies in struggles with seasonal maintenance at the refinery level reducing gas supplies and in turn driving up prices, said Jeannie Chavez, AAA New Mexico spokesperson.

“If the refineries can build up the supplies, the prices at the pump should come down,” she said.

But summer usually means higher prices during the travel season.

Higher prices have not reduced demand, and experts anticipate demands will continue to rise over summer, she said.

Learning a lesson from last year, the city of Clovis planned for fuel increases when this year’s budget was structured, city Finance Director Don Clifton said.

“We’ve got to function,” he said. “We anticipated this and budgeted for it. We ran over the budget (last year), but it’s a wild guess.”

Mikel Hayes, senior assistant manager at Domino’s Pizza in Clovis, said his business too has had to make adjustments to compensate for fuel cost. Delivery charges of $1.75 have been added, and many delivery drivers have switched to smaller vehicles, he said.

“Business is very good, (but) I think there might be a few more people coming to pick up (their pizzas),” he said.

Denesha Stoddard said while her family has not had to make cutbacks in budget to this point, she is becoming concerned as summer draws closer.

“Gas prices (are) outrageous. It’s getting crazy,” she said.

Her family usually goes to Las Vegas, Nev., for vacation every year, but now she’s not so sure.

“I’m beginning to think no vacation this summer,” she said.

Gas prices
The average monthly price of a gallon of unleaded gasoline in Clovis, according to AAA New Mexico.
March 2006: $2.36
April 2006: $2.66
May 2006: n/a
June 2006: n/a
July 2006: $2.84
August 2006: $2.81
September 2006: $2.39
October 2006: $2.15
November 2006: $2.15
December 2006: $2.27
January: $2.22
February: $2.23
March: $2.47
April as of Thursday: $2.74

April averages as of Thursday:
National: $2.85
New Mexico: $2.85
Amarillo: $2.80
Albuquerque: $2.81
Portales $2.76

Source: AAA of New Mexico