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Hawai‘i County to Pay More at the Pump July 1

June 30, 2019, 2:21 PM HST
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Hele gas station. PC: Par Hawaii

Hawai‘i County residents can expect to see an increase in the cost of fuel starting July 1, 2019.

Summer increases aren’t uncommon, since summer-grade fuel is generally more expensive to produce than winter fuel and summer usually brings higher demand.

Prices usually peak around Memorial Day.

But this increase will be around for a while due to the new, higher fuel tax.

According to Marie Montgomery Nordhues of AAA, Hawai‘i County will see gas prices go up 4 cents per gallon beginning Monday, July 1, 2019, due to the new tax hike.

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In total taxes, Hawai‘i County will now pay 23 cents per gallon for gasoline and diesel, 3.3 cents per gallon for ethanol and 14 cents per gallon for compressed and liquified natural gas—up from 19 cents per gallon for gasoline and diesel, 2.8 cents per gallon for ethanol and 9.4 cents per gallon for compressed and liquified natural gas in July 2018.

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The federal government is allotted 18.4 cents per gallon and the difference goes to state and local governments to for the construction and upkeep of roads, highways and bridges. The state also has the power to allocate funds to states, cities and counties as needed.

Nordhues also explained that gas prices in Hilo are already hovering around the highest so far this year. In fact, the price of gas has climbed about 50 cents per gallon since the lowest 2019 average of $3.24. However, gas prices in Hilo during May and June 2019 were lower than they were during the same months last year because oil is less expensive this year.

Hawai‘i County will now have the same gas tax rate as Maui County, which usually has the most expensive gas in the state, Nordhues told Big Island Now.

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However, she said, at the No. 5 position in the nation for the highest gas tax, Hawai‘i Island will still not have the highest gas tax in the US.

California is levying a tax increase of 5.6 cents a gallon up and drivers will now pay 57.8 cents a gallon  in taxes (including excise and sales tax).

Oil refinery. PC: Par Hawaii

The national average for fuel is less than $3 per gallon for the fifth year in a row.

However, Hawai‘i legislature is one of a dozen states currently considering switching to charging Hawai‘i drivers per mile of road used and eliminating fuel tax altogether in order to fund the upkeep of state roads and bridges.

Nordhues also explained that unpredictable factors, such as tensions between the US and Iran, economic concerns and supply problems (like the one created recently by the explosion at the Philadelphia refinery) make it difficult to predict how prices will change in the next year.

Hawai‘i has a very limited supply of fuel. The state is down from only two oil refineries in the state to just one due to Island Energy closing in 2018. Par Hawai‘i, the state’s only remaining refinery, processes up to 148,000 barrels of crude oil per day and has 27 miles of distribution pipelines. Its fuel is sold by nearly 130 retailers on the Big Island, O‘ahu and Maui, including Hele gas stations. However, Par Hawai‘i primarily markets aviation and marine fuels.

The general rule of thumb for gasoline is those close to refineries pay less at the pump.

Since we live in such a remote area, in order to find the best fuel prices, Nordhues recommends Hawai‘i consumers purchase big box store memberships close to them that offer Top Tier.

AAA recommends Top Tier because it “has been shown to improve car performance and reduce engine knocking due to its detergent level and it will probably save you money on maintenance in the long run.

76 gas station. PC: Par Hawaii

According to Consumer Reports, Top Tier retailers include 76, Aloha Petroleum, Amoco, ARCO, Beacon, BP, Breakaway, Break Time, Cenex, Chevron, CITGO, Conoco, Costco, CountryMark, Diamond Shamrock, Entec, Esso, Express Mart, Exxon, Fast Fuel, HFN, Hele, Holiday, Kwik Star, Irving, Kirkland Signature, Kwik Star, Kwik Trip, Marathon, Metro Petro, MFA, Mobil, Ohana Fuels, Phillips 66, PUMA, QT, Quik Trip, Road Ranger, Shamrock, Shell, Sinclair, Sunoco, SuperAmerica, SuperFuels, Texaco, Valero, Value America, Wow and Win Win.

Nordhues said AAA has also recently conducted a study that concluded “Americans waste $2 billion a year buying premium fuel instead of regular unleaded because their cars don’t need it. If your car does not say it needs premium fuel in the owner’s manual, don’t buy it—it’s 10 to 25% more expensive. Also, if premium fuel is recommended rather than required, your vehicle will usually operate just as well with regular unleaded gas.”

Use the free AAA app to find the lowest cost for Top Tier fuel.

Nordhues said to maximize fuel efficiency, make sure to check tire pressure once a month while they are cold. Ensure they match the pressure listed in your owner’s manual rather than the side of the tire.

AAA is offering a new promotion with Shell gas ending Aug. 31—members can save 15 cents per gallon their first three fill-ups and 5 cents per gallon or more for fill-ups thereafter.

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