California’s average price for a gallon of gasoline is the highest in the United States, with Santa Clara County among the most expensive in the state, according to the Automobile Association of America.
As of March 8, the average price for regular gas in California was $5.44 per gallon, the highest ever recorded, according to AAA, with Santa Clara County exceeding that at $5.47.
Prices in Morgan Hill have kept pace with the rest of the county. The 76 station, 14660 Monterey Road, has the least expensive price as of March 8, at $4.90 a gallon for regular, according to GasBuddy.com, which tracks prices in real-time. Prices go up dramatically from there, up to $5.85 for regular and $6 for premium.
Following California is Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Alaska.
Filling up at the Kwik Serve station at the corner of Monterey Road and Dunne Avenue March 8 was Steve Bryant, who called the rising gas prices “outrageous.” A week ago, he paid $4.34 per gallon at the same station. On March 8, the price was $5.19.
He said he is “lucky” because he both lives and works in Morgan Hill with about a five-mile commute to his construction job. But he knows many people in his industry who are suffering due to the increasing cost of fuel.
“It’s taken a big chunk out of their paychecks,” Bryant said. “I don’t know anybody who is happy paying these prices.”
He added he used to visit family in Nevada somewhat regularly, but those road trips are “getting fewer and further between” because of gas prices. He suggested that federal and state authorities should at least temporarily roll back gas taxes, which comprise more than $1 per gallon in California.
Hollister resident Alyssa Cabrel said with her daily 30-minute commute, plus regular road trips to Arizona, the latest price increase is eating up “half my paycheck.” As of March 8, it costs her more than $60 to fill the tank on her mid-size SUV, Cabrel said while in line at the Safeway gas station on Tennant Avenue in Morgan Hill.
“I just have to budget more,” said Cabrel, who commutes from Hollister to Morgan Hill for work every day. She also travels to Arizona periodically for family visits. “It doesn’t seem to be getting better. It’s not good to add onto everybody’s other stresses.”
AAA said an increase in gas demand, along with a reduction in total supply, is contributing to price increases, but rising oil prices continue to play a leading role in pushing prices higher. Prices at the pump will likely continue to rise as crude prices continue to climb.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a major factor in the skyrocketing prices, analysts say.
On March 8, President Joe Biden announced the United States is banning imports of Russian oil, natural gas and coal.
The International Energy Agency recently announced a release of crude oil from 31 countries’ reserves, including the U.S., Germany, Canada, South Korea and Mexico, to help counter the impact of rising crude prices. However, it admitted that the release is small in comparison to what flows daily from Russia, which exports about five million barrels a day of crude oil globally.
According to U.S. Census data, Morgan Hill workers average a 37-minute commute one way, meaning a large amount of time spent burning gas.
The rise of electric vehicles throughout the state have been considered to be in response to the uncertainty surrounding gas prices. However, Morgan Hill has the one of the lowest EV adoption rate in Santa Clara County at 4.6%, only above Gilroy’s 2.4% and the unincorporated area’s 3.4%, according to a December 2021 study by Silicon Valley Clean Energy, which suggests that economics may be a factor in purchasing the pricier vehicles.
A “significant” portion of EV sales in South County used rebates, according to the report, while the more affluent areas, such as Saratoga and Los Gatos, were among the lowest rebate users, likely due to income caps.
While Santa Clara County has some of the highest numbers of public EV charging stations in the state, the infrastructure is not quite there in Morgan Hill, according to the report.
The PlugShare website, which tracks charging stations by city, estimates Morgan Hill has 37 stations.
The Morgan Hill City Council in December adopted a Climate Action Plan that encourages more electric vehicle charging infrastructure at new and existing multi-family housing complexes and commercial properties.