Mercer Island Gas– More Info, But Still High

The Big Picture blog, one of the best blogs on the economy, writes that gas is down to $1.75 per gallon nationally.Gasbuddy provides a nice heatmap of national gas prices. Here’s Puget Sound,weighing in at above the national average:

Strange that in gasbuddy’s chart, Mercer Island is among the cheaper areas. It usually seems to be among the most expensive to me- am I wrong?


The question is, why are our prices higher than average? Mike Cero, commenting on an earlier post about gas prices, altered us to a study by Attorney General Rob McKenna on Washington state’s investigation into gas prices. According to Mike,

“The investigation, which included an in-depth analysis of factors influencing prices at the pump, found variations across Washington communities are due to the cost of obtaining and transporting fuel to stations and local competition – not illegal price manipulation. Increasing worldwide demand for oil and an inability for regional refineries to meet local supply demands are the primary contributors to erratically climbing prices, experts added.”

If you ever start a blog, make sure you get smart commenters. It makes your job much easier. Anyway, it sounds like price fixing has been ruled out but we’re still stuck with expensive gas.

Bonus Mercer Island History Riff

And not because it’s relevant to the discussion of gas prices, but just because I love Mercer Island history and it’s a great read, I’m going to copy most of Mike’s second comment here:

I would like to comment about the passing of an era occurring at Pete’s station. Pete’s converting to the newer more efficient and thereby more competitive swipe and pump service pumps. Call me nostalgic, but I enjoyed the personal interaction of manually processing the credit card. I took a little pleasure at the inconvenience of having to find Jeff or Brian under a car to ask them to “please reset the pumps so I can spend my money.” Fueling at Pete’s station had a soothing effect of slowing the days pace. About half the time, someone would walk out and watch as I pump. Doesn’t take an MBA to see this inefficiency, but I will miss the Rockwellian experience of talking about the weather and complaining about gas prices while watching the numbers click on the dial. – Mike Cero


2 responses to “Mercer Island Gas– More Info, But Still High

  1. I’ll have to read McKenna’s report, but so far I have a hard time believing that the location of the refineries explains our gas prices. Here’s a map of U.S. refineries:

    And here’s the GasBuddy price temp chart:

    Why are prices in Washington the same (or more) than Oregon, when we have 4 refineries and they have none?

    I would believe a correlation with the lack of competition. The north end has one 76 station and 3 Shell stations.

  2. Not sure that sexplain why the Chevron in Newport Heights in Bellevue is 10-15% below the Chevron(s) here!

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