FREMONT COUNTY – Whether you’re in Penrose, Florence or Canon City, gas prices are going to cost you more than what you will pay in Pueblo or Colorado Springs. Many stations across Fremont County were selling unleaded for between $2.86 and $2.97 per gallon on Tuesday. Compare that to stations in Colorado Springs and Pueblo where News 5 found prices ranging between $2.57 and $2.67 per gallon.
Gas prices around the country are monitored continuously by the automotive group AAA. Spokesman Skyler McKinley for AAA Colorado said that gas prices are trending downward this month. He thinks what’s keeping the price higher in Fremont and Chaffee Counties are supply routes. The gas stations in these communities get their fuel from the same refineries which supply the Western Slope rather than refineries that serve the Front Range.
“I’m from Pueblo and I would think of Canon City and Fremont County as really just part of my community in Southern Colorado,” McKinley said. “But the maps that we’re looking at as folks who live in these communities and drive them are different than the maps that oil companies are looking at.”
If you drive around town, it doesn’t take long to figure out that a single company owns an oversized share of the market in Fremont County. Pester Marketing, which does business under the Alta Convenience Stores brand, bought eight stations in the County last year. While not total monopoly, even their competitors are setting prices that are similar.
McKinley thinks station ownership is playing a role in the pricing formula here, but not for nefarious reasons. He explained the gas being sold at all of the Alta stations is considered top tier gasoline.
“Top tier gasoline is a gasoline that has a blend of detergents in it that make the engine run better,” he said. “It’s what I put in my car. It usually costs about $0.10 more on the gallon.”
He believes because Alta has such a large presence here and all of the stations are selling top tier gas, even the stations who do not will still set similar prices in order to stay competitive.
“It’s no secret that gas prices are priced relative to what everyone else is charging,” McKinley said. “It’s not quite price fixing, it’s mostly competitors looking at what the market will allow.”