City of Somerset to sell gas directly to public - WDRB 41 Louisville News

City of Somerset to sell gas directly to public

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This fueling station normally used for city-owned vehicles in Somerset, will soon be open to the public. This fueling station normally used for city-owned vehicles in Somerset, will soon be open to the public.
Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler says gas companies have been ripping off consumers because of "greed." Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler says gas companies have been ripping off consumers because of "greed."
SOMERSET, Ky. (WDRB) -- A small city in south-central Kentucky is taking drastic steps to combat rising gas prices. Somerset is literally taking the pump into its own hands.

We all complain about high gas prices. But officials in the city of Somerset may be the first in Kentucky to actually try and do something about it.
Compared to Louisville, gas in Somerset is a relative bargain at around $3.79 per gallon.

But customers say it's almost always more expensive there than in the surrounding communities.

"It’s a lot higher than the rest of the places that are 25 to 30 miles from here. Most of the time, they're much cheaper," said Somerset resident Jimmy Goggins.

"They're about 20 cents higher a gallon, generally speaking, or more," said Jenny Collier, who commutes to Somerset from out of town.

Now the city of Somerset is taking action.

"They're just simply ripping off the public, and they're doing it because of greed," said Mayor Eddie Girdler.

Next month, the city will open to the public the station it has used to fuel city-owned vehicles for years.

"And what we’re going to do is do our job. Which means, why shouldn't we deal with high gas prices? It's something that affects the quality of life," said Girdler.

The city will purchase the fuel from a local refinery and price it 15 to 20 cents below whatever commercial stations are charging.

"We’re going to set a price, and if the companies want to equal that or go lower than that, we’ve achieved our objective," said Girdler.

Not surprisingly, gas customers love the idea.

"I'll be in line. Sure will," said Goggins.

"I would buy gas here more often if it was a more reasonable price, yes," said Collier.

"It will be interesting to see what the companies, the refineries, have to say about it down the road. If it impacts their business that much, I’m sure they'll have something to say," said Somerset resident Dan White.

The mayor says the city will likely break even on the fuel sales. He says the profit is not the point.

"It is our economy, and we can't allow anybody to continue to gouge us and take money away from us," said Girdler.

If commercial stations do not drop their prices, the mayor says the city may look to expand and open even more fueling stations; arming itself for what could be a long price war.

And the other side is also rattling sabers. On Friday, the Kentucky Association of Grocers and Convenience Stores issued a statement to WDRB opposing Somerset's move, calling it "anti-competitive." The group says it's troubling that Somerset is using facilities subsidized by taxpayers in order to compete with the private sector.

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