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Energy Commission report finds California's
gasoline price spikes higher than rest of nation
Sacramento - California's sharp increase in gasoline prices this spring was a regional event that may have cost consumers an extra $108 million at the pump over three weeks, according to a report released today by the California Energy Commission.
"California drivers paid a record price of over $3.33 a gallon for regular gasoline in May," noted Energy Commission Chairman Jackalyne Pfannenstiel. "But California's steep, unexplained price spike was not shared with the rest of the nation; for the week ending May 8, 2006, California's average price for regular was more than 42 cents higher than the national average."
On April 24, 2006, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger directed the California Energy Commission to work with the Attorney General's office to investigate the steep run-up in fuel prices,. While the Commission's final report is due August 15, 2006, it today released an "Interim Report - Spring 2006 Price Spike".
Over a 10-week period this spring, the wholesale price of gasoline in the state jumped by $1.41 a gallon. Wholesale diesel prices increased 93 cents a gallon. While rising crude oil prices and increases in seasonal demand may explain part of the increases, the Energy Commission is still gathering information on other market forces that led to escalating prices at the pump.
The interim report suggests that California may need new laws requiring oil companies to supply on-going detailed, confidential information about their costs and profits if the state hopes to understand the recent price hikes. It also identifies the need for changes in state codes to allow agencies like the Board of Equalization to share with the Energy Commission consumption information currently protected under confidentially language.
Besides examining such supply-side issues as refinery capacity, inventory levels and port congestion, the final report will include an assessment of the petroleum industry's profitability in California and will compare it to the U.S. petroleum industry as a whole, and to the profitability of other types of businesses. It will also examine the impacts of high fuel prices on consumers and the economy.
The Energy Commission's "Interim Report - Spring 2006 Price Spike" is available on line at
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