Local drivers refusing to fear $3-a-gallon gas

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Friday, December 10, 2010
— There's something to be said for living in one of the cities hardest hit in one of the states hardest hit by the economic downturn.

Many people pumping gas Thursday night at the Kwik Trip on Memorial Avenue in Janesville said money is tight already, so $3 gas is nothing to stress about.

"I've got to have it," said Danielle Heise of Janesville. "I don't want to stress over gas money. It still goes up no matter what."

Oil Price Information analyst Tom Kloza told the Associated Press that the national average prices could rise to between $3.25 and $3.50 a gallon by spring.

The increase is due in part to the fact that crude oil prices hit a multi-year high of $89.38 on Monday. That was an increase of 19 cents on Monday but $3.65 from this time a week ago, according to AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report.

Several Janesville drivers said they were more shocked about the sharp increase than anything.

"I can't control the gas prices. I just have to accept it and move on," said Sarah McNelley of Janesville, who does not expect the price increase to change her driving habits. "I'll budget a few extra dollars.

"But, the last time I filled up, it was $2.80-something. I was shocked."

The average gas price in Wisconsin is $2.945 per gallon, according to AAA data. Of all the metropolitan markets in Wisconsin, gas prices are highest in Eau Claire at $2.997.

At $2.922 per gallon, the Janesville-Beloit metropolitan market falls in about the middle of the list of markets. Milwaukee is the cheapest at $2.914.

The price is the highest since October 17, 2008, according to AAA data. The average U.S. price is less than a nickel below $3, but American drivers have never paid $3 for gas in December, according to the Fuel Gauge Report.

AAA analysts attribute the increase in the price of crude oil to many things, including an increase in the strength of the Euro, a weak dollar, the high growth rate of Chinese manufacturing and an increase in U.S. private sector payrolls. The payroll increase was the highest in three years and added to a trend of positive world economic news, according to AAA analysts.

The increase in the crude oil price resulted in a national average price that is up more than thirty cents per gallon over last year. Five states—Connecticut, Delaware, Michigan, Minnesota, and New Jersey—are seeing increases of more than 40 cents per gallon from the same date last year.

The Oil Price Information Service estimates that, at these numbers, Americans are paying about $1.115 billion each day for gasoline. In 2009, Americans paid $995 million per day.

Gerhard Messer of rural Janesville said he and other Janesville residents are used to dealing with high fuel prices.

"You used to run into town for a bag of screws. You don't do that any more," Messer said.

High gas prices also have encouraged Messer, the owner of Janesville Electric Motor Corp., to be more conservative with the way he routes delivery trucks.

Janesville resident Shawn Grant said he doesn't expect $3 gas to affect his driving habits very much. After all, he is driving as seldomly as possible already, he said.

"We try to keep it limited anyways," Grant said.

He's hoping the price increase caps out at around $3.25. Either way, paying more at the pump is nothing new, he said.

"We've done it before."

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Last updated: 3:52 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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