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Gas price again a record in SLO County

The average cost for a gallon of unleaded gas in San Luis Obispo County rose 4 cents to $4.74 Sunday, breaking the local record for a second straight day.

The price also remained the highest in the state — slightly above San Francisco’s $4.731 — and appeared to be the highest among the nation’s metropolitan areas, based on a review of the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report.

A temporary reduction in supply sent gas prices soaring in California the past week. The state average for a gallon of unleaded gas Sunday was $4.655, eclipsing Hawaii ($4.411), Alaska ($4.169), and New York ($4.128.)

Prices have risen nearly 50 cents in the past week in the San Luis Obispo-Atascadero-Paso Robles area, according to AAA. The previous highest recorded average price for unleaded gas in the county was $4.681 in June 2008.

To help drive prices down, Gov. Jerry Brown ordered state smog regulators Sunday to allow winter-blend gasoline to be sold in California earlier than usual. Winter-blend gas typically isn’t sold until after Oct. 31. Few refineries outside the state are currently making summer-blend gas, putting the pressure on already-taxed California manufacturers.

In some locations, fuming motorists paid $5 or more per gallon for unleaded gas while station owners had to shut down pumps in others. A station in Long Beach had California’s priciest gas at $6.65 for a gallon of regular, according to GasBuddy.com, which reported that customers at an outlet in San Pablo paid just $3.49, the lowest price in the state.

In San Luis Obispo County, prices reached highs of $5.29 a gallon for unleaded in Santa Margarita and $5.19 a gallon in Cambria, according to GasBuddy.com.

The dramatic surge in gas prices followed a power outage Monday at a Southern California refinery that reduced supply in an already fragile and volatile market, analysts said. The refinery came back online Friday and prices are expected to stabilize in the coming days. Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy.com, predicted the average price statewide could peak as high as $4.85 before coming back down.

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