SLO County has the most expensive gas in United States — and Fresno is in the top 20

Why gas prices topped $4 a gallon in California this year

Gas prices in San Luis Obispo County spiked at an average of more than $4 a gallon for several weeks in spring 2019 due to refinery outages and rising oil and ethanol prices.
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Gas prices in San Luis Obispo County spiked at an average of more than $4 a gallon for several weeks in spring 2019 due to refinery outages and rising oil and ethanol prices.

You might want to hold off on your weekend road trip plans.

San Luis Obispo County had the highest gas prices in the entire country on Friday, according to gas analyst GasBuddy.com.

Averaging at a whopping $3.91 per gallon, SLO County beat out large metropolitan areas such as San Francisco ($3.81), Los Angeles ($3.737) and San Diego ($3.70) for the coveted “most expensive in the nation” title Friday morning.

Cities in California predictably dominated the list, with all 25 of the most expensive metropolitan statistical areas hailing from the Golden State. Fresno ($3.715) sat at No. 16, Sacramento ($3.664) at No. 21 and Modest ($3.637) at No. 25.

The $3.91 per gallon price is an average of all the reported fuel prices throughout San Luis Obispo County, meaning there are some higher and some lower than that. The averages are also subject to fluctuate throughout the day.

Gasbuddy.com showed the highest gas price in the county was $4.59 per gallon at the Shell station on Main Street in Cambria on Friday morning. The lowest was $3.35 per gallon at Sinclair on Morro Bay Boulevard in Morro Bay.

That national average Thursday morning was $2.715 per gallon

Why gas prices are so high

That San Luis Obispo County gas prices are high should be little surprise to most people. The county routinely has the highest gas prices in the state, as well as the United States.

According to the a recent study released by the Economic Vitality Corporation of San Luis Obispo County, it all comes down to distance.

“Of the cities we sampled, San Luis Obispo is one of the furthest from major wholesale gasoline supply hubs (the local refinery does not produce gasoline, rather it produces an intermediate product that is refined elsewhere),” read the report, released on Wednesday. “It is located over 190 miles from the major network of refineries, gasoline pipelines, and supply centers in Northern and Southern California. This implies significant trucking costs, which we estimate adds about 12 cents relative to the other cities in our survey.”

The study found that an additional factor in the higher-than-average prices in San Luis Obispo County were high real estate prices, which could make it more expensive for service station owners.

Additionally some California-specific factors contribute to the local pain at the pump, the study found.

State and local governments in California impose sales and excise taxes “that are much higher than the national average,” according to the report. Environmental regulation also adds costs, researchers found.

You can read the full report at http://www.sloevc.org/about/news.php?id=22.

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Kaytlyn Leslie writes about business and development for The San Luis Obispo Tribune. Hailing from Nipomo, she also covers city governments and happenings in the South County region, including Arroyo Grande, Pismo Beach and Grover Beach. She joined The Tribune in 2013 after graduating from Cal Poly with her journalism degree.