The price at the pump for regular no-lead gas vaulted to $4.15 a gallon in the Tri-Cities before dropping a penny or more at most stations on Monday.
Tornadoes and other storm surges are not to blame, according to Patrick DeHaan, senior fuel analyst with Chicago-based GasBuddy.com.
While the storms did their damage on the ground, the recent spike in fuel prices is due to mechanical breakdowns at Midwest refineries that have limited regional output, according to DeHaan.
“These facilities are 100 years old in some cases,” he explained. “They can't be expected to run full-tilt without breakdowns. ... At times you have outages that limit the ability to produce gasoline.”
Spring Lake resident Darlene Tuttle said the prices are frightening. She and her husband drive an eight-cylinder Chevy Silverado that gets about 15 miles per gallon.
“Things are so high-priced now,” Tuttle said. “To up the gas even more, I guess they're really trying to break us. I'm just shocked at the price. It really does make you wonder why it has gone up.”
To add fuel to the frustration, the Great Lakes is the only region in the country affected by the price jump, DeHaan said. The rest of the nation's pump prices remain steady in the $3.50-to-under-$4 a gallon range.
“Oil refineries remain the bottleneck this time around,” DeHaan said.
Spring Lake resident Kathy Boelema said she's going to do her best to keep away from the pumps for a while.
“I'm going to try to conserve," she said. "If I go into Grand Haven, I'll try to get all my errands done at the same time. If I go to Ferrysburg, I'll try to run errands in Norton Shores.”
DeHaan said the price surge caught him off-guard.
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