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Boycott distributors to lower gas prices

Posted: Monday, January 05, 2009

In response to Friday's article about gas prices, I offer the following:

First of all, do not confuse Southeast Alaska gas prices with those up North. There is no correlation since all our fuel is imported from Washington State.

After a few phone calls this morning, I found that the retail price of gas in Seattle is around $1.60 a gallon, which is around $1 per gallon cheaper than we are paying.

After talking to some folks in the fuel business locally and in Washington, this puts the wholesale price around $1 a gallon. Add shipping costs and you come up with $1.20 to $1.40 per gallon when delivered to local distributors, of which there are three - Delta Western, Taku Fuel and Petro Marine. Since they are all selling fuel, there is no incentive to lower prices. They charge what the market will bear.

We as consumers need to change that market since our elected representatives cannot or won't.

How?

We impose a rolling boycott. Here is how it works: Everyone - and I mean everyone, or it won't work - needs to start buying gas from the cheapest seller, forcing the others to lower their price or sit on their inventory. When that happens, simply start buying from the one that lowers their price the most.

The tricky part is targeting each distributor, not the retailer. The biggest retailers are Fred Meyer, supplied by Delta Western; Safeway, supplied by Petro Marine; and Taku Fleet, supplied by Taku Fuel. All Tesoro outlets are supplied by Delta Western.

Other than Douglas In and Out, which is a Taku Fuel outlet, all other retailers are independent and can buy fuel from whomever they choose. Since Fred Meyer and Safeway usually have the same price, one has to be excluded, even though their price is the same to target the distributor.

With the help of the Juneau Empire, I would be happy to coordinate this effort. If they will publish the distributor to buy from weekly, I will do the leg work and notify them who has the lowest price and where to fill up each week. With minimal effort on our part, we can force competition among our local distributors. We are paying 60-70 cents per gallon too much for fuel and there is no reason we should support the profit-taking going on by our local distributors any longer.

We as consumers have the power; all we have to do is use it constructively. If you want change, then you have to work at it to effect that change. If I errored in who supplies who, I'm quite sure they will let me know and I will pass it on.

John Niemi

Douglas



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