The average price of a gallon of regular gasoline in Santa Rosa hit an all-time high of $4.62 Saturday morning, topping the state average of $4.61 — also a record.
Saturday's price, as measured by AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge survey, jumped almost 11 cents from Friday's $4.51 for a gallon of regular. It was 78 cents higher than a year ago.
At the Chevron station on Bennett Valley Road near the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, James Kotaska, a tourist from Louisiana, filled up his convertible rental car with regular.
"Seems like they always have a reason for why the price is high — a pipeline is down or a refinery is broken," Kotaska said, adding that back home he buys premium gas for his own car.
"In Louisiana, premium was $3.83 just a few days ago before I flew in," he said. Premium was $4.81 at the Bennett Valley Road Chevron.
Fuel prices hit record highs across the state, according to AAA's daily fuel gauge, which the organization touts as the nation's most comprehensive survey of retail gasoline prices.
The survey is based on a formula that uses prices for the previous three days to compute the daily average, which is posted at about 3 a.m.
Santa Rosa was among a number of California metropolitan areas where records were set Saturday. Others included the Los Angeles-Long Beach area with $4.66 for a gallon of regular; Oakland with $4.63; Orange County with $4.65; San Diego with $4.67; San Francisco with $4.69 and the San Luis Obispo-Atascadero-Paso Robles area with $4.71.
The current jump in prices is blamed on refinery problems that have limited gasoline supplies in California.
Last week's surge began Monday after a power 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 were expected to stabilize by next week.
At the Rotten Robbie gas station on East Todd Road just south of Santa Rosa, a gallon of regular was selling for $4.59 — the same as Friday. T.J. Tellez, the station manager, said Rotten Robbie owner Tom Robinson decided not to raise the price.
In an email to Rotten Robbie employees, Robbins said the $4.59 per gallon price was less than what the company is currently paying for fuel.
Isaac Atkinson of Willits stopped with his family for gas at Rotten Robbie on his way to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo. He said the family had been saving up for the trip, and that when gas prices spiked they decided to bring lunch and snacks from home instead of buying food at the theme park.
"I'm just kind of bummed out about it," he said of fuel prices. "We're driving less, just trying to watch our money. It makes it hard to do family things."
At a the Chevron station at Mendocino and College avenues, where a gallon of regular was $4.76 and a gallon of premium was $5.00, Joe Brighenti of Windsor pumped gas into his 1996 Mitsubishi Montero, which gets between 10 and 11 miles to the gallon.
Brighenti, a video editor who works in Rohnert Park, said he's considering selling his SUV and buying a more gas efficient vehicle.
"I figure if I get a new car with payments that are low enough, it would almost be a wash," he said.
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