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Motorists in Red Deer see no fuel price drop in New Year

Many people agree an inquiry should uncover why prices remain high, despite no fuel tax
Frank Melo, of Pincher Creek, said he’s limiting visits to see daughters in Red Deer and Edmonton because he can’t afford the high cost of fuel. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

Many motorists still paying $1.30 a litre for gas in Red Deer, are wondering where is the price break the government promised for the New Year.

As of Jan. 1, the Alberta government is no longer collecting the provincial fuel tax — which led Albertans to believe prices at the pumps would drop by about four cents a litre.

While some gas stations in Rocky Mountain House were selling gas for $1.07 a litre this week, most of Red Deer’s gas prices were $1.29 a litre‚ in line with what many Calgary gas stations were charging.

A few stations in the city, including Shell and Chevron, were charging $1.19 a litre for gas on Wednesday afternoon.

The Alberta New Democrats are calling for a government review of the provincial gas tax relief program after retail fuel prices remained largely unchanged in the New Year.

“At a time when so many Albertans are struggling, it’s frustrating that the public doesn’t really know whether this relief is actually being passed on or not,” said Alberta NDP Energy Critic Kathleen Ganley.

Frank Melo, who was filling his vehicle up at the Co-op gas bar at Gaetz Avenue and 32nd Street, thinks a government pricing review is in order — especially since it’s now costing him more to use his diesel vehicle than his gas-fuelled one.

Diesel costs $1.85 a litre, said Melo, who wonders why people should pay more to fill up with a more efficient fuel source. “It’s absolutely ridiculous,” added the retired oilfield worker who was always told diesel is cheaper to produce than gas.

Melo, who’d driven into Red Deer to visit his daughter from his home in Pincher Creek, is having to limit family visits to this city and to Edmonton because he can’t afford the cost of fuel.

Meanwhile, an oilpatch worker at the Husky Station in the Bower Place strip mall, said he has a truck for work but drives his smaller vehicle whenever possible to save money.

Moises, who declined to give his last name, feels an inquiry is needed to uncover why Red Deerians and Calgarians are paying more for gas than motorists in smaller out-of-the-way locations such as Rocky Mountain House.

Red Deerian Ben Ordman feels there could be business reasons for maintaining the higher prices, based on distribution challenges, or companies not able to adjust quickly, but he believes people need some explanation.

An inquiry would help broaden consumers’ understanding of what’s happening — which would be a good thing, added Ordman.

A fuel market expert told a Calgary media outlet this week that a reduction in tax doesn’t mean gas prices will immediately drop as there was just a 12-cent jump in refinery margins after several US refineries were shut down by extreme weather.