Laughing all the way to the (fuel) bank

Gas prices are on the rise as Americans get ready to hit the road for the Christmas and New Year holidays. The spike is unusual — traditionally prices bottom out this time of year. Filling up at a station in Philadelphia, drivers Eddie Maddox and George Wilson gave vent to the feelings of most drivers.”Gas prices are starting to climb, getting a little bit out of reach and it’s going to hurt the pockets,” said Maddox.”There’s nothing you can do, unless you boycott and ride your bike. But that’s not going to get you anywhere,” added Wilson.Some motorists in the vicinity of St. Cloud, Minn., have no such worries. An oil company there found a way, decades ago, to “lock in” prices, much as some customers do for their home-heating oil. Jim Feneis, who owns First Fuel Bank, said some customers truly lucked out when they decided on the long-term strategy. “We still have roughly 300 members that are fueling and have fueled through these terribly high-priced times, with gasoline still under a dollar a gallon,” said Feneis. The current lock-in price is $3.15 a gallon, Feneis said Monday.  He’s been asked to franchise the idea countless times. But he says he likes keeping his business in his hometown.  Feneis, who opened the gas bank in the 1980s, said he never expected prices to rise so dramatically. “In all honesty, we never imagined the volatility that we see in the oil markets today,” he said.

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