Powerless at pump
Isle gas prices in record territory
Short of urging people to drive less, carpool or take public transportation, there is little the government can do to quickly bring down the cost of gasoline prices, which are now at record highs statewide, Gov. Linda Lingle said.
"The fact that gasoline was up (yesterday) is not just a one-day or a one-week story," Lingle said yesterday in an interview with the Star-Bulletin. "This is a vision of what the future will be if we don't start to make dramatic shifts."
But shifts to renewable energy sources and more efficient transportation are longer-term fixes. While Lingle lamented the financial toll that higher prices are having on Hawaii residents, she said there's little that anyone in Hawaii can do to affect the chief reason for the increases: high crude oil costs.
"I can't think of anything an individual can do to bring down the cost of gasoline," she said. "There's certainly nothing that the state of Hawaii can do to impact the price of worldwide oil based on expanding economies worldwide.
"That's why we're so aggressive in our comments about the need to move toward renewable, locally produced sources of energy."
Meanwhile, the statewide average for self-serve regular unleaded was $3.697 a gallon yesterday, topping the previous high of $3.684 set Sept. 18, 2005, just weeks after Hurricane Katrina disrupted the nation's oil supply.
The previous high also was set in the midst of Hawaii's attempt to regulate wholesale gas prices by tying them to an average of prices in three mainland markets.
While the so-called "gas caps" have been suspended, the issue of Hawaii's high gas prices continues to dog state leaders as they search for ways to address the high cost of living in Hawaii.
The cost of living is going up as crude oil prices continue to trade at near-record highs, fueling inflation in virtually all sectors of the state's economy.
The higher energy costs also are primarily felt by consumers in the form of higher electric bills.
Such increases typically result from electric utilities being able to pass 100 percent of their increased fuel costs along to consumers. The Public Utilities Commission is studying the issue to determine whether an energy-cost adjustment clause should be enacted to regulate how much of electric companies' fuel costs can be passed on to consumers.
In repealing the wholesale gas price caps two years ago, lawmakers required oil companies to make detailed weekly reports to the Public Utilities Commission.
A measure to clarify the law and give the PUC more leeway in determining what it can make public has stalled in the House, although it could still be brought back before the Legislature adjourns May 1.
While Lingle has the authority to reinstate the price caps, she has repeatedly said she does not see a situation where she would take that action.
A look at prices per gallon for regular, self-serve unleaded in Hawaii and across the country. Yesterday's statewide Hawaii average of $3.697 topped the previous record of $3.684 set Sept. 18, 2005. Yesterday's national average of $3.365 also was a new record.
Source: AAA Fuel Gauge Report
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