110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
By Al Everson
posted Dec 31, 2012 - 7:56:18am
Just in time for Christmas, local motorists probably noticed a sharp and sudden increase in gasoline prices.
“I don’t know. I went inside, and they said they were going up,” said Esteban Irizarry, of Orange City, as he pumped higher-priced fuel into his car at the RaceTrac station on DeLand’s south side.
In just a few hours between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, retail prices surged by as much as 17 cents — or more — at service stations in West Volusia. Prices skyrocketed along the U.S. 17-92 corridor. The abrupt increases followed weeks of very gradual declines, and with no unusual scares or rumors of war in the Middle East.
AAA Auto Club South’s Angie LaPlante told The Beacon she had not heard of such sharp hikes in gas prices in the run-up to Christmas, as she looked over the latest retail-price summaries from major markets throughout Florida.
“I’ve heard of 3- and 4-cent increases, but this is huge,” LaPlante said, adding she had not been aware of the multi-cent hikes in the DeLand-Orange City area until The Beacon contacted her. “I have heard from my managers, and they said they have not seen anything like it. This seems to be isolated.”
Even though the AAA had projected an increase in travel for the holiday, LaPlante cold not explain the local price spikes, which, she said, may be an “isolated” situation.
“We are going to get an updated Energy Information Administration report,” she said, referring to the agency within the U.S. Department of Energy.
Already known are recent increases in the per-barrel prices of petroleum.
“Futures are rising,” LaPlante said.
In addition to an increased consumption of gasoline, the Department of Energy report also mentioned more crude oil is being refined into heating oil for the winter.
While crude-oil prices have hovered around $88 per barrel in recent days, the AAA puts the average price of a gallon of self-serve unleaded regular gas at $3.31 in the Daytona Beach market, which includes West Volusia.
At this writing, the Florida-wide average for the same grade of fuel is $3.28, and the Orlando market’s average is $3.21.
Gas prices are typically higher in Volusia County than elsewhere in Central Florida, because the Volusia County Council imposed a local-option tax of 5 cents per gallon in 2000. Volusia County has the highest local fuel taxes — 12 cents per gallon — allowed under state law. The local taxes are in addition to state and federal taxes.
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