By Jessie Hellmann Kokomo Tribune
---- — Jerimey Penley delivers pizzas for a local restaurant, so when Kokomo’s gas prices spiked nearly 50 cents Tuesday, it hurt him a lot.
He talked Tuesday afternoon as he pumped gas for $3.19 a gallon at Phillips 66 on Apperson Way.
“I feel like I’m getting ripped off,” Penley said. “I’m on my way to work now, and they don’t give us much for gas. When gas jumps like this, it’s basically on us. It really hurts.”
Penley may have been getting a good deal, though.
Late last week and early this week prices in the area fell to near-record lows. Many area stations were selling a gallon of gas for less than $3. But by Tuesday afternoon gas prices at many stations in Kokomo jumped to $3.49 a gallon, just in time for the Fourth of July.
“If I would have known that was going to happen, I would have filled up yesterday or this morning,” Penley said. “It’s taking money out of my pocket to support myself and my family.”
The national average for a gallon of gas is $3.48, with Indiana’s average sitting at $3.39, according to AAA.
Nineteen of Kokomo’s 37 gas stations reached prices of $3.49 per gallon last night, according to indianagasprices.com.
“They’re just ripping us off,” he said. “It’s a shame. I don’t know what we’re supposed to do about it.”
Public Affairs Manager at the AAA Hoosier Motor Club Greg Seiter said it isn’t unusual for gas prices to increase when holidays are approaching.
“Crude oil prices are based on anticipation. Buyers are looking ahead at the holiday and anticipating a lot of people will be traveling, so demand for gas will increase,” Seiter said.
An estimated 34.4 million Americans will travel for the Fourth of July holiday, according to AAA.
But Seiter doesn’t think the holiday will drive up gas prices that much.
“I don’t think the fourth will have a significant impact (on gas prices) as we head into this weekend,” he said.
Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at Gas Buddy, a website that lists gas prices for every city in the U.S., said the holiday may have no impact at all. It’s a common misconception that gas prices go up around every holiday, he said.
“That’s not really the case. We looked at the past few years, and on occasion, gas prices do go up on July 4th, but that could be coincidental,” DeHaan said. “People become more price sensitive to prices of gas as they approach July 4 because they may be hitting the road for the holiday. “
DeHaan also said that sometimes when one gas station raises its prices, others in the area follow suit.
“Whether or not all stations will follow will be seen,” DeHaan said. “They’re probably losing a lot of money, which is why some stations are looking to raise their prices. I’m not saying that is warranted, but some stations are going to follow others.”