Pump costs jump to $3 per gallon


POSTED: Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Two weeks before the price of fuel is expected to jump by about a dime in extra taxes, the statewide average for a gallon of gasoline hit the $3 mark.

Hawaii's average of $3.001 a gallon yesterday was second-highest in the country, behind California at $3.014, according to AAA's Fuel Gauge Report.

Nationwide, retail gas prices rose for the 49th straight day.

The national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline gained a half cent overnight to $2.674, according to AAA, Wright Express and the Oil Price Information Service, surpassing a stretch in early 2007 when prices moved up 48 straight days.

In late April, when this streak began, a gallon of gas cost $2.05 nationwide, $2.48 in Hawaii.

The state average last topped $3 a gallon in mid-November, when crude oil prices were hovering in the $50-$60 a barrel range. Crude settled at $70.47 a barrel yesterday on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The highest-priced gas in Hawaii yesterday was in Wailuku at $3.25 a gallon. Hilo was at $3.10 a gallon while Honolulu was at $2.92.

Prices statewide are expected to jump by about 10 cents a gallon on July 1, after a general excise tax exemption on ethanol-blended fuel expires. Lawmakers did not extend the exemption, citing the need for revenue to make up the state's budget shortfall.

The Lingle administration did not object, and the state Department of Taxation estimates the GET on fuel to generate about $40 million over a year.

“;All of those funds will be used for improvement projects and, of course, that will employ people as well,”; Lingle said yesterday.

Hawaii's average is 43 cents higher than a month ago, but still well below last year's average of $4.308. The state's record high of $4.507 was set July 31 last year.

Star-Bulletin reporter Richard Borreca and the Associated Press contributed to this report.