Gas prices soar; C. Oregonians wince at the pump

AAA says prices will go up more before they fall

Soaring gas prices have impact across C.O.

BEND, Ore. - Leave a gas station these days, and with your fuller tank comes a lighter wallet.

Gas prices on the High Desert have climbed steadily the last 32 days -- and Central Oregonians say they've noticed.

"It makes me mad -- it's upsetting," Bend resident Leonard Mead said while filling up his tank on Tuesday.

And it's not just here in Oregon, but across the U.S.

AAA spokeswoman for Oregon and Idaho Marie Dodds said several factors are to blame.

"We're looking at a combination of things, including higher crude oil prices, refinery shutdowns, speculation, as well as the annual changeover from the cheaper winter blends of fuel to the more expensive and cleaner burning summer fuel," Dodds said in a phone interview.

While most of the refineries shutting down or closing temporarily are on the East Coast, the affects are far-reaching.

"I don't like it, it seems like it's going up a lot earlier than usual," said a man filling up at a Bend Chevron station.

"I try to avoid driving other places than work," said a young woman also getting gas.

But for some, avoiding lots of driving isn't an option.

For Donner Flower Shop owner Doris Dilday, it's the lifeblood of her business.

"If it continues, if we hit $5 a gallon, I will have to raise the prices," Dilday said.

She says her drivers can clock between 75 and 150 miles in a day -- and Dilday watches gas prices very closely.

"It has gone out of proportion, it seems like. The gas makes a big difference when it comes to the bottom line," she said.

Mead is a sales manager who spends a lot of time on the road. He said higher gas prices have a negative domino effect for many businesses.

"It's tougher for companies. Their bottom line is being spent on gas," Mead said.  It comes to the point, with our product, people can't afford to buy it, because we have to charge so much for it because of high gas prices."

We might be grumbling here, but many Americans might consider Oregonians lucky.

"The Oregon average is less than the national average for the fourth week in a row, and normally we talk about how we are usually, almost always in the Top 10 most expensive states," Dodds said.

But still, she said, expect prices to keep rising, for now.

Dodds said she believes prices will peak sometime in April or May. And then this summer, we should see prices drop again.

Dodds said last's year highest gas prices in Oregon peaked at $4.27 per gallon in June.

She said she believes this year's peak will be lower.

Oregon has the 17th-cheapest gas in the U.S. Average Oregon prices this week are $3.61 per gallon and the national average is $3.68 per gallon.

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