Yep, we're in the middle of a gasoline price war that seems not to have spread anywhere beyond Champaign-Urbana.
And hooray for competition (which in this case includes those devils at Wal-Mart).
This all started about two weeks ago, according to local gas station owner Dorothy Collins, when Wal-Mart and Meijer started trying to undercut each other on gasoline prices. It got so aggressive, she said, that it spread to other stations in Champaign, then moved across Wright Street into Urbana.
"We just had to join in to keep competitive," Collins said.
She doesn't know how long this will last. "You know the old saying? 'It can't get any lower.'
"But who knows? Maybe it will. It's good for the consumer."
There's been no movement up or down on prices so far today, Collins said. Her advice? "Enjoy it."
The American Automobile Association reports (and I'd advise you to be somewhat skeptical of this data) that the average price for a gallon of regular in Champaign-Urbana today is $2.14.
That compares with $2.26 in Bloomington-Normal, $2.48 in Chicago, $2.28 in Danville, $2.33 in the Quad Cities and Decatur, $2.25 in East St. Louis, $2.31 in Peoria-Pekin, $2.45 in Quincy, $2.29 in Rockford and $2.30 in Springfield.
A year ago a gallon of regular in Champaign-Urbana cost $1.97.
A month ago it was $2.95.
The highest-ever local price, according to the AAA, was $3.11 on Sept. 3.
Somehow, $2.14 a gallon or $2.07 or $1.99 now sounds cheap. I suppose a few years from now it will be.
Now, how do we shop around for the lowest natural gas and electricity prices -- you know, that deregulation and competition we were supposed to have in Illinois?