For Immediate Release: May 27, 1999
Media Contact: Claudia Chandler -- 916 654-4989

Note to Editors: Here are two gasoline releases for the Memorial Day weekend. The first describes prices; the second makes recommendations on how consumers can save money at the pump.

California Gas Price Update...
Prices Expected to Continue Dropping

Sacramento -- Memorial Day traditionally signals the start of the summer driving season when motorists hit the nation's highways in large numbers, usually causing gasoline demand to increase and prices to jump.

This year, however, gas prices across the nation started to climb early when the cost of crude oil edged up in March. In California, refinery problems in March and April tightened supplies and caused prices to increase even more -- hitting a statewide average high of $1.62 for unleaded regular during the week of April 12.

Prices have slowly declined since reaching that peak in April. For the week ending May 24, regular unleaded averaged $1.42 a gallon across the state, and the downward price trend will likely continue. Supplies are healthy and gasoline production in California is up 10 percent over this time last year, even though the Tosco-Avon refinery remains closed.

Although retail prices are dropping, however, they probably will not return to the 28-year-low reached in March 1999, when happy California consumers were paying, on average, $1.06 a gallon. That's because, since the first of the year, the cost of crude oil has climbed from approximately $10 a barrel to its current price of $15 a barrel.

Last year, California motorists consumed 14 billion gallons, of gasoline, an all-time high for the State.

Taking the Edge Off High
Memorial Day Gas Prices

Regular unleaded gasoline in California costs 18 cents a gallon more this Memorial Day than it did a year ago. To minimize the pain of higher prices and help motorists keep their gasoline bills in check, the California Energy Commission offers these five hints on saving fuel and money.

  1. Shop around for the best prices. Stations across the street from each other can vary in price by 20 cents a gallon or more. Since all gasoline sold in California meets strict standards, it's likely that your vehicle will do well on any brand. When you buy the least expensive fuel, you are encouraging stations to lower their prices...and rewarding those that do.

  2. Fill up with regular unleaded gasoline. Approximately 80 percent of today's cars and trucks run fine on regular. Check your owner's manual to see if yours is one of them. By using regular instead of mid-grade or premium, you can save substantial amounts; according to last week's average retail prices in California, premium was selling for 21 cents more per gallon than regular!

  3. Slow down. Fuel economy decreases as speeds go up. You can figure that your vehicle loses roughly one percent in fuel economy for every mile per hour that you drive above 55 miles per hour. That means a car that averages 30 miles per gallon at 55 mph could typically get 28.5 mph at 60 mph, 27 m.p.g. at 65 mph, and 25.5 mph at 70 mph. (Remember that the drop in fuel economy will probably vary for different models and ages of vehicles.)

  4. Roll up your car windows and use the air conditioning. At more than 40 miles per hour, using the air conditioning actually wastes less gasoline than rolling down your windows. That's because new cars are more aerodynamic and energy efficient with the windows rolled up. For the best mileage, try to use the flow-through ventilation system without the air conditioning.

  5. Check your tire pressure. Under-inflated tires cut fuel economy by as much as two percent for each missing pound of pressure. So, if your tires are rolling along at only 25 psi instead of the recommended 30 psi, you'll suffer a 10 percent loss in fuel economy.

Gasoline price updates can be found on the Energy Commission's Web Site at:

More gasoline saving tips are located at:

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