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The Almighty Buck Transportation United States

Gas Prices Jump; California Hardest Hit 402

Posted by timothy
from the swedes-and-brits-will-cry-us-a-river dept.
New submitter jefery23 writes with this excerpt from an Associated Press article (as carried by the Denver Post): "Californians woke up to a shock Friday as overnight gasoline prices jumped by as much as 20 cents a gallon in some areas, ending a week of soaring costs that saw some stations close and others charge record prices." Friday's jump followed another big one just a day earlier, too. Texas gas prices have gone up, but not quite so dramatically ($3.59 at the station nearest to me); how are they in your neck of the woods? Those Bloom boxes and charging stations can't arrive too soon.
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Gas Prices Jump; California Hardest Hit

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  • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Saturday October 06, 2012 @10:33AM (#41568247)

    I live in California. We are paying the price for years of anti-business policies and nimbyism. We have no spare refinery capacity, and we have fewer gas stations per-capita than most states, and few new stations are being built.

    I don't expect things to get any better. Pro-business people are leaving the state, shifting us even further to the left, and the car-culture is thriving. My son's elementary school has 800 students, and despite perfect weather almost every day, exactly two (2) of them bike to school: my son and a kindergarten girl from our neighborhood. Every morning we pedal past a long line of moms in idling SUVs waiting to drop of their kid.

  • by Local ID10T (790134) <ID10T.L.USER@gmail.com> on Saturday October 06, 2012 @10:39AM (#41568337) Homepage

    Wednesday morning, I noticed some gas stations near me (silicon valley, ca) had raised their prices by $0.40 or more since the previous day. By Thursday, all the local gas stations had caught up. That is approximately a 9% jump. If prices went up again yesterday (which I haven't noticed...) then the overall increase this past week is more like 15%.

  • Re:why california? (Score:5, Informative)

    by JazzHarper (745403) on Saturday October 06, 2012 @10:43AM (#41568391) Journal

    What's special about CA that made them have a higher increase than the rest of us?

    California has different gasoline formulation standards than the rest of the country, so gasoline cannot be brought in from other states. At this time of year, they are switching from the state-mandated "summer formulation" to "winter formulation", so inventories are low. Then, there was a refinery fire in August, which shut down some of the state's gasoline production. Combine those factors and you have all the necessary conditions for shortages.

  • Re:why california? (Score:3, Informative)

    by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Saturday October 06, 2012 @10:47AM (#41568435)

    A local refinery lost power and shut down for a while.

  • by Smidge204 (605297) on Saturday October 06, 2012 @10:54AM (#41568517) Journal

    Washington State Electrical Power (2011) [wa.gov] (PDF)

    73% Hydroelectric
    14% Coal
    8% Natural Gas
    3% Nuclear
    1.12% Wind
    0.49% Biomass
    0.37% Waste
    0.08% Petroleum
    0.05% Landfill gasses
    0.02% Geothermal
    0.03% Other

    When you have to lie to make a point, you should realize that your point is not worth making.
    =Smidge=

  • Re:Yeah but... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 06, 2012 @10:55AM (#41568521)
    can't believe you pay what, $3.60 per gallon. jesus we had such prices 20 years ago. Calculating from litres to gallons,and from USD to EUR, they charge $8.64 a gallon here, in germany. everyone excluding me stop complaining;)
  • Re:Spoiled americans (Score:1, Informative)

    by mc6809e (214243) on Saturday October 06, 2012 @10:56AM (#41568539)

    It is beyond me how americans can complain about gas prices. In Sweden people pay more than twice as much, and everyone seems to be fine with it. On top of that, americans have even more money to spend than do swedes. So, are americans cheap, or just spoiled?

    Neither. We're just a terribly spread-out and need lots of fuel.

    My Czech friend's parents marveled constantly while here about how distant everything was from everything else. "You need to drive just to get a loaf of bread?" Yep.

    I don't think Europeans understand just how large the USA relative to Europe and how less populated it is (perhaps a result of seeing Mercator projection maps that exaggerate Europe's size).

    Consider this: the distance from San Diego, California, USA to Bangor, Maine, USA is greater than the distance from Stockholm, Sweden to Delhi, India.

  • by fm6 (162816) on Saturday October 06, 2012 @10:57AM (#41568547) Homepage Journal

    I live in California. We are paying the price for years of anti-business policies and nimbyism.

    No, you're paying the price for turning the state into one big freeway. Gas in CA is more expensive because it uses a special formula, without which air in the state would be unbreathable.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 06, 2012 @11:09AM (#41568651)

    For crying out loud, this is a typical day-to-day change out here surrounded Chicago. It's been jumping up and down from 10 to 30 cents a day all damn year and rarely stays below $3.99 for long.

  • by MagikSlinger (259969) on Saturday October 06, 2012 @11:16AM (#41568711) Homepage Journal

    Wow. You manage to bring in one thing to explain this thing and get it spectacularly wrong. As someone else pointed out, the Columbus Day weekend is the traditional ramp down time for refineries in the U.S. as they rejigger their formulation for fall (You didn't know refineries changed formulas for the season?). Also, several major supply routes got messed up:

    From California gasoline prices soar amid refinery and pipeline shutdowns By The Associated Press [denverpost.com]:

    "Among the recent disruptions, an Aug. 6 fire at a Chevron Corp. refinery in Richmond left one of the region's largest refineries producing at a reduced capacity, and a Chevron pipeline that moves crude to northern California also was shut down. There also was a power failure that affected an Exxon Mobil Corp. refinery in Torrance, but the refinery has resumed normal operations."

    As for Krugman and this being all the fault of QEx: there's a reason gas is not part of the core measure of inflation. Last I checked, we aren't in an inflation cycle yet [calculatedriskblog.com]. Gas is a volatile price (no-pun intended) that jumps way up and down responding to things like, you know, refineries having fires and pipeline shut downs. It's left out of most inflation conversations among economists.

    Anyway, thanks for playing! Here's a home version of the game "The Eeeevil Fed Is Coming For Your Savings!!"

  • Re:Thank the Fed (Score:5, Informative)

    by Time_Ngler (564671) on Saturday October 06, 2012 @11:21AM (#41568767)

    The US dollar is actually a little higher from this time last year.http://www.marketwatch.com/investing/index/dxy

  • Re:Spoiled americans (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 06, 2012 @11:28AM (#41568855)

    Google maps would seem to disagree with you

  • by roman_mir (125474) on Saturday October 06, 2012 @11:31AM (#41568913) Homepage Journal

    This is not exactly supply and demand issue, this is a shrinking economy and inflation issue. The shrinking economy causes people to use less gasoline and inflation causes nominal prices to rise (while real prices are actually falling due to the deflation, so if you measure oil in gold, then you'll see that the prices are falling, not rising).

    As the productivity in USA and Europe shrinks, more of the product is distributed to the productive nations, which are able to buy more of that product, but this causes supply irregularities in the countries with less supply.

    The situation is similar to what happens in the meat market due to inflation and other factors (like drought). As the supply of feed is reduced due to higher input costs because of inflation and as less supply is produced due to other factors like drought, the farmers start getting rid of their animals, they slaughter more and the prices can fall temporarily. However once that glut of meat is consumed, the overall supply of the animals is reduced and the prices for meat products will jump up.

    I believe you are observing the same phenomena right now with oil prices and it's due to higher nominal cost of oil drilling and refining due to inflation as well as lower purchasing power by the population due to the inflation and due to the shrinking economy.

    As a side note, the funny jobs numbers that came out (unemployment down to 7.8%) are indeed quite educating to the political situation in USA. 10,000 jobs were added in government and 16,000 jobs were lost in manufacturing sector in September (22,000 manufacturing jobs lost in August). However a 'household survey' shows that 873,000 jobs were created in September [marketwatch.com], this is the highest number of jobs added in one months since 1983. 66% of these jobs are part time, so the U6 number is unchanged (just under 15%) in September (number of underemployed people as well of those who are unemployed). Don't forget that every revision that comes out the next month revises the job growth numbers down and elections are in November. Don't forget that Obama's white house pressured the military (and other) contractors not to send out pink slips to their employees, who will be fired in 2 months and who must be notified 60 days prior, the white house promised all those contractors to take care of the penalties that they will incur due to this malpractice, this is clearly a violation and manipulation aimed at winning the elections, which is likely highly illegal.

    A week ago GDP numbers came out, not that anybody should actually take those numbers at face value, they are absolutely misreported, but even as they are, they were revised down for the second quarter from 1.7 to 1.3%, and this is after using a completely fake deflator of 1.6%. How is it possible that the economy that is "growing" (officially) by 1.6% is adding all these jobs to take the unemployment down to 7.8%? The truth of course is that the economy is shrinking and if the real inflation number is used, then it becomes immediately obvious. Even if the inflation number is only 3%, then the economy is shrinking, because the pre-deflator GDP is 2.9%. The inflation is a few times bigger than that though, so adding jobs in a shrinking economy sound very fishy.

    ---

    Think about this: the official deflator for the GDP is 1.6% [bls.gov]. Here is a chart of CPI [global-rates.com]. That's the reported number. The revised GDP is 1.3% [bea.gov] Which is down from 1.7% earlier, before the revision. The U6 unemployment number is 15%. [portalseven.com]

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Saturday October 06, 2012 @11:57AM (#41569199) Journal

    The price of Gas is not reacting to a Supply vs Demand price rise. 2005 remains the peak of oil consumption in the U.S.

    This is a nice thought, but it's the wrong question. The market doesn't consist solely of the US, you need to measure global supply and global demand.

    Global demand has continued to go up.

  • by Smidge204 (605297) on Saturday October 06, 2012 @12:21PM (#41569465) Journal

    It's not hard to actually dig up the data. You don't have to presume or guess anything.

    Where would the power for 10,000 EVs come from? all sources. It's not as if they run Hydro at 100% until they max it out, then run up Coal until that's maxed out, etc... If anything, they run coal flat out all the time because that's the most economical way to operate it. Coal and other thermal cycle powerplants are slow to respond to changes, Hydro is not. So I'd actually posit that the lion's share of power for 10,000 EVs would be from untapped Hydro power.

    Scraping Wikipedia [wikipedia.org], Washington State has over 27,000 MW of potential hydro power installed. Obviously not all of that will be usable year-round or necessarily all at once, but even if we cut that in half (say 13,000 MW) that's 113,880,000 MWh of electricity per year. In 2011 they used 59,576,028 or 52% of that. 52% of half their installed capacity. There's plenty of headroom there.

    To put that into perspective, 10,000 vehicles driving the national average of 15,000 mi/yr with a very conservative 3 mi/kWh would need an extra 50,000 MWh of electricity... a 0.05% increase over the 91,106,272 MWh they already use. Drop in the bucket. If everyone in the entire state bought an EV - even the ones who don't currently own or are even eligible to own a car - power consumption would rise about 37%. You're still well within the state's installed hydroelectric generating capacity.

    So no, I don't think the coal plants will burn any hotter at all.

    For what reasons they don't use 100% hydro I cannot say - probably a mix of political, economic, engineering and practical reasons along with selling power outside the state.
    =Smidge=

  • Re:Chicken and egg (Score:5, Informative)

    by Y-Crate (540566) on Saturday October 06, 2012 @12:29PM (#41569513)

    Learn to take the bus.

    not always (or even frequently) a solution in much of the US. the infrastructure was NEVER designed for mass transit .

    Yes it was!

    Most major cities had extensive streetcar and interurban lines. It might surprise you that Los Angeles was once a model city for mass transit in the U.S. A massive network of electric trams began running in 1887 and continued on through 1961. The late 50s / early 60s marked the auto boom and death of comprehensive public transit in LA (and many other cities, as well) leaving only some bus routes behind. That began a period of planning designed to focus exclusively on the automobile.

    The funny thing is that the whole "People will never stop using X! This city was built for it!" argument against mass transit that you hear today was used against cars 40 years ago - after nearly 80 years of mass transit shaping the city and lifestyle.

    Now, LA has become the site of a transit renaissance [metro.net]. The period of time between the end of the Red Car's 74 year run and the completion of the last segment of the Red Line subway was 39 years.

    Car-centric planning was a blip. Don't believe the hype that claims otherwise.

  • by Dark$ide (732508) on Saturday October 06, 2012 @01:32PM (#41570099) Journal
    • 1 Gallon (US) == 3.78541 litres
    • 1 litre costs £1.379
    • 1 GBP pound == 1.61340 US dollars.
    • £1.379 == $2.22488

    So 1 gallon of gasoline costs 3.78541 times 2.22488 or $8.42

    Now stop complaining.

  • Re:Yeah but... (Score:5, Informative)

    by nospam007 (722110) * on Saturday October 06, 2012 @02:17PM (#41570479)

    "Maybe its time that you in the EU made your own TEA (Taxed Enough Already) party and let the politicians know you're tired of their hands in your wallet?"

    Why? we get something for it.

    Where I live the minimum wage is 2347$ for everybody of 18 years of age without any qualification, health benefits for everyone, guaranteed minimum income even if you can't/won't work, minimum pensions for everyone, survivor pensions for everyone allied to a person having worked at least 12 months, disability pensions if you get hurt or sick, a year and a half of unemployment benefits, months of vacation for mom and dad when a kid comes to the family, no matter which way, perfect roads, free schools, University costs a couple of hundred bucks a year and for 5 bucks you can use all the public transports for 24 hours throughout the country, 50 bucks for a month.

    And doctors make housecalls for less than 10 bucks of contribution.

    I pay 38% for that and I'm glad to do it.

  • by geoskd (321194) on Saturday October 06, 2012 @06:44PM (#41572761)

    Right now it's a comparison of industrial strength electric motors with consumer gas engines. As the electric car will become more popular, the same trade-offs will be made (weight, durability, price) as for consumer gas engines.

    Umm, what? Lets take this whole thing point by point. You're clearly suffering from a lack of actual knowledge. Let me help you with that. To put this in perspective, I work for an industrial transportation company. We have a large commercial fleet of vehicles, some of them EVs, most conventional. We also have a large warehousing and freight forwarding operation which makes use of vast quantities of industrial electric motors. So, we can be described as having a pretty good perspective on all of the various technologies involved, as well as what would be described as expert knowledge of the operational profiles of the most industrial equipment available.

    Window wiper motors, window motors, fan motors all die multiple times before the engine fails. Most cars are wrecked with a capable engine. Most engines are not economic viable once difficult-to-reach seals need be replaced. Nevertheless, gasoline engines have a huge tolerance for maluse and neglect (excessive play, valve problems, etc.), electric tends to be more of the ON/OFF type.

    Without regular maintenance (weekly oil and water, Three month PMI, yearly state inspection and daily pre-trip inspection of our vehicles, they would quickly become dangerously non-functional. Engine problems are the usual trouble and engine failure is frequent enough that our vehicle specifications require easy engine replacement procedures compared to passenger vehicles. We typically go through 2 to three engines in a vehicles operational life of fifteen years. Typical mileage on the vehicles at retirement is between 300k and 600k miles. 400k is considered quite good for one of our engines (They are rated for 10,000 hours or 300k miles). By contrast, most of our vehicles are taken out of service with the original wiper motors, fan motors (only a small percentage of the fleet has electric fan motors) or water pumps. Even more telling, we can use the stats for the belt drive motors in use in our local warehousing facility. The drives are rated at 18kW continuous with peak load handling of 30kW for 10 seconds. We have around seventy five of them in our warehouse. I have been stationed in this building for ten years, and in that time, we have had one drive motor fail after a new variable speed controller was installed wrong and overloaded the motor (and itself). The MTBF on our motors from the manufacturer are 100,000 hours continuous operation, and 75,000 hours for 50% rapid duty cycle operation, but in our operation we have many motors that are well past the 200,000 mark, and none that have failed in service. The manufacturers don't even list MTBF information because its pretty meaningless. I had to go digging to even find Baldors specs on it, and they have a disclaimer that they really don't know what the expected life span is because almost all of their motors are decommissioned long before they fail. Whenever you hear about motor failures, its always because they're being overloaded / pushed beyond spec.

    When both applications are compared in the same industrial environment, large freighters, heavy machinery, I've seen electrical (sub)engines always need be replaced multiple times, under far less demanding conditions. wartsila.

    Yeah, whatever. Making electric motors last is a matter of correctly sizing the motor for the application. If you're constantly frying motors, its because you used a motor that is not large enough for the application. Going to the next size up will fix most of that problem for you. A sufficiently sized and maintained electric motor can and will last decades. We have several 275kW Baldors in our building that have been in service since the 50's. They are never run past 25% capacity which keeps them nice and cool. B

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