Raise your hand if you want fewer gas stations, and what’s the deal on Cascade Road?

Comment on Tuesday’s prediction:  Prices rose on Thursday, but just to $3.65, not $3.75.  I am going to score it as 3/4 CORRECT, 1/4 WRONG.

Saturday, March 26, 7:30PM:  I just saw Butler go back to the Final Four, and I’ve been thinking about this recent article in the GR Press concerning why retail gas prices are volatile.   On this site, we’ve tried to explain the dynamic, and we hope it has helped you.  I’ve been mulling over the gist of the article, which is that there are too many gas stations, and that causes prices to bounce around.  I think that is actually true, but what is the alternative?  If there were fewer stations, prices would stay relatively constant — at the higher price hike price!  I’d rather have the volatility if that means there is an opportunity to buy gas at pre-spike prices.

Speaking of volatility, what is the world is going on at Cascade and I-96 today?  This is what I observed:  Forest Hills Foods had gas for $3.65 at around 3PM, and the Marathon was at $3.49.  At 4:30PM, the Speedway and Shell were at $3.49, and the Marathon was back to $3.65.  Did someone hit the wrong switch this afternoon?

Updated: March 26, 2011 — 6:25 pm

6 Comments

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  1. There are already far fewer gas stations in the Kalamazoo/Portage area then there were a decade ago. Since 1999, I can count 14 gas stations in this area that have closed.

    The good news is among those gas stations that Speedway purchased (many of them apparently Mobil), all or most have been extensively remodeled, providing not only much improved C-Stores, but more gas pumps and pump arrangements that can simultaneously handle more vehicles. The last group of stations in the Kalamazoo/Portage area Speedway purchased were the Crystal Flashes in about 2002.

    I don’t know how many gas stations have closed in other Michigan cities, but if you assume the retail gasoline market in Kalamazoo has consolidated and it hasn’t in other cities, then the theory that fewer gas stations equals higher average prices is confirmed by the current average prices:

    * $3.622 – Kalamazoo (average includes Plainwell/Otsego)

    * $3.613 – Grand Rapids

    * $3.602 – Ann Arbor

    * $3.580 – Lansing

    * $3.566 – Detroit

    * $3.559 – Flint

    Kalamazoo is the smallest of these cities, so that also needs to be figured into the analysis. However, Speedway has a very strong presence in Kalamazoo/Portage, possibly the highest proportion of stations anywhere. I don’t know if distance from Michigan’s only refinery in Detroit makes any difference. The Wolverine pipeline runs through Portage.

  2. Based on the prices you posted for Friday, I’d expect $3.759 on Tuesday, March 29.

  3. I see Speedway has just added an “E85” category for their fuel price listings, even though all West Michigan stations say “E85:N/A.” I think the only place in Kalamazoo to get E85 is Bob & Kay’s Shell and Shark Wash on Stadium Dr. in Oshtemo Township.

    If you want free fuel, bring your electric vehicle to one of 4 free charging stations in Kalamazoo. The electricity comes from a wind turbine and solar panels:

    http://www.mlive.com/news/kalamazoo/index.ssf/2011/03/western_michigan_university_un_2.html

  4. Speedway has moved this Wednesday morning to $3.699 in West Michigan with $3.659 in communities along the Indiana border.

    While you failed to blog a prediction for the second time this year, you did provide ample evidence for an increase today or tomorrow by your daily data updates.

    Kerosene remains mostly $4.099 ($4.199 in Coldwater and Bangor) and auto diesel remains mostly $3.999, except:

    * $3.959 in Schoolcraft, Paw Paw, and Allegan

    * $3.919 at one location in Portage

    * $3.889 in Mattawan, the only one in the region to sell truck diesel

  5. Based on the numbers you posted last night, had Speedway waited until today to go up, they might have gone to $3.799. If those numbers hold, I’d expect to see that price on Tuesday, April 5 at 10 a.m. However, it seems Speedway is trying to step up slowly, so maybe they’ll only do $3.759 the next time.

  6. My husband and I started using Gas Envy..like watching the prices now!

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