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For Immediate Release: May 24, 2006
Media Contact: Rob Schlichting - 916-654-4989

Gasoline prices drift down before Memorial Day


Sacramento - Gasoline supplies are adequate and prices at the pump are inching down as California motorists head into the Memorial Day weekend.

The statewide average retail price for regular gasoline fell 7.5 cents to $3.25 for the week ending Monday, May 22, 2006. The all-time high was reached during the week ending May 8, when retail prices averaged $3.33 across the state.

"Although retail prices are waning, they can still put a damper on a family's travel plans on this three-day holiday," said California Energy Commissioner James D. Boyd. "Some simple energy efficiency tips can help drivers get the most out of their gasoline purchases."

First, the Energy Commission urges drivers to shop around for the least expensive gasoline. Retail prices can vary by 10 percent or more from station to station, and all of the gasoline sold in California provides similar performance. Comparing prices can save substantial amounts at the pump. And since 90 percent of the vehicles on the road today are designed to operate on regular gasoline, buying the more-expensive, mid-grade or premium blends in most cases wastes money.

Driving efficiently can save as much as 20 percent on gasoline costs. Avoid aggressive driving and rapid starts, and stay within the speed limit on your holiday trip. Driving 55 miles per hour instead of 75 mph reduces fuel costs by 25 percent. Driving 65 mph instead of 75 mph saves 13 percent.

Make sure your vehicle is operating properly. Regular maintenance — as prescribed by the vehicle owner's manual —helps you achieve the best fuel economy. A dirty air filter and under-inflated tires can increase your fuel cost as much as 13 percent. The Energy Commission estimates that if all Californians properly inflated and aligned their tires, we could save 300 million gallons of gasoline a year.

The Weekly Fuels Watch Report issued today by the California Energy Commission shows that last week California refineries produced, on average, 881,286 barrels of gasoline a day for in-state use. That figure for the week ending May 19, 2006 was 8.4 percent below the previous week's totals, and 12.1 percent below last year's production level.

Inventories of California gasoline fell 3.7 percent in comparison to the previous week but were 19.5 percent below last year’s numbers. Despite the drop in inventories, the average spot price for CARB gasoline declined 29 cents over the week. The average wholesale (rack) price in the state fell 19 cents, to $2.56 between May 12 and May 19, 2006.

California diesel production improved 2.6 percent over the previous week's output, a 7.0 increase from a year ago. CARB diesel inventories climbed 11.8 percent for the week and are now 43.6 percent above last year's supplies.

The entire Weekly Fuels Watch Report can be seen on the Energy Commission's Web site at

www.energy.ca.gov/database/fore/

Additional gas-saving tips are on the Energy Commission's consumer Web site at

www.consumerenergycenter.org/transportation/consumer_tips

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