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'Hot fuel' hits a hot button

June 01, 2008

The so-called hot-fuel phenomenon is hot air. (" 'Hot fuel' adds to pain at the pump," May 23.) It is true that gasoline contains less energy per gallon the warmer it is, but it is wrong to conclude that consumers get less than what they pay for.

Gas stations sell energy. It so happens that the energy is measured in terms of gallons of gasoline. Requiring gas stations to adjust the gallons for the temperature will not affect how much energy cars and trucks need.

However, requiring gas stations to install new equipment will raise the cost to operate gas stations. Those costs are going to be paid out of consumers' pocketbooks.

Andy Campbell

Oakland

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The most striking part of the story was the appliance serviceman who was using gasoline price increases to justify adding $20 to the price of a house call because "the monthly gas bill from all his house calls jumped to $425, up $100."

If he makes as few as one house call a day, the extra $20 each would pay his entire monthly gasoline bill, not just the 24% increase. This is an example of using the excuse of fuel prices to justify simply increasing prices. Maybe he should consider instead getting a more fuel-efficient vehicle.

There are many variables in the actual fuel value of a gallon of gasoline that probably overshadow the temperature effect. For example, adding 10% ethanol may have a greater negative effect. The fuel-price problem is not in the last few pennies of the $4-a-gallon price but in the total cost. To do something about that, we all need to use far, far less of it, not quibble about insignificant problems.

John MacDougall

La Crescenta

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