Relief finally arrives at pump

Gas prices $3 at casino; AAA expects holiday travel increase

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JEROME A. POLLOS/Press Floyd Moyer fills the tank of his car Tuesday at the Holiday Station in Hayden where regular unleaded was advertised at $3.33 a gallon. 

The machines weren't the only thing creating a buzz around the Coeur d'Alene Casino on Tuesday.

The gas price at the Conoco next door was lowered to $3 per gallon.

Bob Bostwick, casino spokesman, said people at the casino celebrated as if they won a different jackpot of sorts.

"Good news travels fast," he said.

Bostwick said the price was at $3.21 last week. The volume of sales has driven the price down, he said.

"With high volume, the need arises to bring more gas," he said. "As we bring more gas at a lower wholesale price, it sells and the trend continues, passing on the savings to the consumer."

He said the biggest driver of the volume has been a clear U.S. 95 this winter leading to the casino.

"(The weather) is our life, living in this part of the country," he said. "If people can come to the casino, many will get gas while they're here."

Bostwick said if the roads aren't icy, the casino can be especially busy in November and December due to holiday parties and promotions.

"People are generally in a festive mood," he said.

Prices are higher farther north, but still down quite a bit from recent months.

The price at the Fightin' Creek Smoke Shop between Coeur d'Alene and the casino was at $3.10 on Tuesday.

The average in Post Falls and Coeur d'Alene was $3.39, down from $3.56 a month ago in Post Falls and $3.53 in Coeur d'Alene, according to AAA. It's the lowest local prices have been in about nine months.

Gary Larson, who filled up in Post Falls on Tuesday, doesn't want to be the Grinch, but doesn't see the gas price decrease as a huge deal.

"I never thought I'd see the day when we'd be happy over $3 gas," he said. "But I guess that's going to be the norm now. At least prices are better than they have been."

The local prices are still higher than the state's average of $3.28 and the nation's average of $3.27.

Today, AAA will predict Christmas/New Year's travel will increase this year over last due to the lower gas prices.

"We expect gas prices will stay at or below the current mark for the next four to six weeks, which is consistent with the lower seasonal demand for gas prices," said Dave Carlson, AAA spokesman. "North Idaho prices are obviously influenced by their source in Washington, where the acquisition price for crude oil is higher. For the most part, southern Idaho is experiencing lower prices because the oil acquisition price is lower and demand is down."

Carlson said in a rare occurrence, oil prices remain near multi-month highs, while pump prices are at a nine-month low because demand is weak.

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