Prices pinching at pumps

Feb. 16, 2013 @ 07:35 PM

Retail gasoline prices have risen nearly a quarter in the past two weeks, and Tri-County residents are feeling the pinch.

Prices are up from around $3.43 on Feb. 2 to an average of $3.65 on Friday.

According to GasBuddy.com, the average gas price in North Carolina was $3.62 entering the weekend and averaged $3.64 nationally.

After falling throughout the autumn months, and hitting a low of $3.22 on Dec. 20, AAA Carolinas reported on Tuesday gas prices in North Carolina began increasing rapidly in mid January.

“They went high,” said Martin Cortez of Henderson. “I drive everyday to work and for errands.”

Cortez says he usually spends around $80 per week on gas, and the recent spike in prices have taken a toll on him financially.

“It hurts in my pocket,” Cortez said.

The rise in prices is expected to continue as refineries switch to summer-blend gasoline, which restricts output and tightens supply.

Filling up a tank of gas for his tiller Friday evening was Charles Ranes of Henderson.

“I can’t eat,” Ranes jokingly said of the rising prices at the pump. “Gas effects everything.

“What we eat, wear, buy, anything that’s shipped in. So, if fuel goes up all cost goes up.”

Ranes believes a cut in gas prices would help boost spending and strengthen the economy.

“They should take some of that stimulus money and cut gas prices,” Ranes said. “You know what that would do for the economy?”

In a prepared statement, David E. Parsons, president and CEO of AAA Carolinas, said the rising prices are not expected to surpass last year’s high.

“The unfortunate news is we expect gas prices to continue to rise incrementally in upcoming weeks,” Parsons said. “However, barring any unforeseen supply issues or instability in the Middle East, we don’t expect increases to reach last year’s levels.”

In 2012, gas prices in North Carolina rose to a high for the year of $3.91 on April 6.

Contact the writer at amauser@hendersondispatch.com.