Gas prices around the Tri-County continued a steady rise this morning, and one local station is out of fuel, as talk of the effects of Hurricane Ike snowballed in the area.
The storm is expected to hit the Gulf Coast area of Texas some time Friday evening and possibly Saturday morning, forcing some refineries to halt production, sparking fears of a possible fuel shortage. How exactly does that impact Corbin, which is approximately 1,040 miles from Galveston, TX, where Ike is expected to do some major damage?
Just ask a few local businesses.
“I think a lot of people are scared that the prices are going to keep going up,” said John Brooks, manger of Swifty in Corbin. “As for running out, I think we have enough to get us through the day.”
When the station opened this morning, prices were at $3.44 a gallon. Around noon, Brooks said the price per gallon went up to $3.75, but he said it was not due to a shortage of any kind.
“We basically go by what our competitors do,” Brooks said. “There are seven stations locally that we monitor and we will match our cheapest competitor.
“We usually go around a couple time a day and check prices to see what the situation is,” he added.
Richard Poff, manager at Circle K on the Cumberland falls Hwy., said his store ran out of fuel around noon, even after prices at his pumps jumped more than fifty cents on the gallon.
“We started the day at $3.44 (per gallon) and it was at $3.99 when we ran out,” Poff said. “As far as why, I don’t have a clue.”
“I know we raising of our prices is based on the competition and we are out of gas,” he added.
Poff said he isn’t even sure when he will be able to restock his tanks.
“I really don’t know,” he said. “We might get some today, we might get some tomorrow.
“I out in a call, but I just don’t know.”
Mike Barnett, Asst. Manager at the Corbin Station Kroger said he hadn’t seen anything near this since coming to the store.
“It is pretty bad out there,” Barnett said. “People are lined up almost to the traffic light right now, so it is kind of crazy.”
Barnett said he also believes the rush is being caused by the fear of high prices as well.
“They are just scared it’s going to go up, so they are trying to get it right now,” he said.
Though there have been no reported incidents at the pumps, Barnett said that he would have security frequent the pumps to discourage any instances where people may become unruly.
“We aren’t going to put someone out there all the time, but they will be here anyway, so they will check things out periodically,” he said. “We don’t expect any trouble though.”
As a result of the price hikes across the state, Governor Steve Beshear announced this afternoon that he is taking action to prevent price gouging in the Commonwealth.
“I am outraged by the voracious practices of price gouging we are seeing,” said Beshear. “Today, I have taken an extraordinary step to protect the consumers of the commonwealth from these predators.
The emergency declaration, issued before Hurricane Ike hits the coast, triggers several consumer protection measures. Among them, it empowers the Attorney General to investigate and prosecute, where appropriate, those who sell gasoline, building supplies and other goods for predatory pricing in a time of disaster.
Gov. Beshear and Attorney General Jack Conway have partnered to make aggressive consumer protection a priority, launching an investigation earlier this summer into high gas prices in Louisville.
“Today, I formally requested that Gov. Beshear implement the price gouging protections of Kentucky’s Consumer Protection Act as they apply to gasoline and other goods and services. We have received an overwhelming influx of reports from across Kentucky regarding gasoline price spikes and even rationing. I felt it was important to get the price gouging protections in place as soon as possible to protect the commonwealth’s consumers and businesses,” General Conway said.
Due to the overwhelming call volume they are experiencing, the Attorney General’s Office encourages anyone with specific information regarding the activities of particular gasoline stations or other retail outlets to contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.