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Cornelius News

Gas pains: Irma is new threat

Sept. 5. By Dave Vieser. It looks like higher gas prices will be with us for a while in the wake of the devastation in Texas caused by Hurricane Harvey. The price of regular gasoline in the Lake Norman area has jumped from an average price of $2.16 on  Aug. 28 to $2.60 or more, a 20 % increase in less than a week.

Nationally known oil and gas analyst Tom Kloza, a founder of Oil Price Information Services, says that North Carolina could see another 10-15 cent hike before prices level off after Labor Day.

Kloza said he doesn’t see the higher gasoline prices lasting too long. “We’ll be paying much less in November and December.” The one wild card: if Hurricane Irma hits a refinery area. “Then all bets are off.”

“Think of it as a garden hose with a greatly diminished water supply,” Kloza said during an exclusive local interview. “The stoppage of fuel from the refineries Texas and Louisiana has placed price pressure on areas such as Lake Norman which get fuel from the Colonial Pipeline.”

The Colonial Pipeline can usually carry about 3 million barrels of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel a day from the Gulf Coast to the East Coast.

Meanwhile, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has signed executive orders to ensure gasoline gets in and through the state, and that motorists don’t get ripped off at the pump. One of the orders waives the cap for fuel vehicles to help gasoline move in and through North Carolina. The other imposes the state’s anti-gouging law for the next 45 days. Crisis overcharging carries heavier fines.

It looks like a run on plywood and other building materials, which has sometimes occurred in previous weather disasters, hasn’t materialized thus far.

However area home improvement stores are stepping up to help those in need from Harvey’s wrath. For example, Lowes Emergency Command Center continues to expedite truckloads of needed clean-up and recovery supplies to Texas, including generators, bottled water, gas cans, chainsaws, water removal equipment, insect repellant, shovels, rakes and other tools.

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