SPECIAL REPORT: Power still iffy in Michigan: truckers looking for fuel

| 8/18/2003

Truckers trying to deliver or leave areas in Michigan are reporting while the electricity is coming back on, many truckstops and gas stations have no fuel. At the Detroiter, a large truckstop in Woodhaven, MI, the harried woman at the fuel desk reported this morning that they got power back at midnight. "We've got electricity," she said, "but no fuel. It's wild." The Detroiter is located on I-75 at exit 32, 15 miles south of Detroit and 15 miles from Windsor, Ontario.

National television networks showed long lines at Michigan gas stations and early Friday morning, Michigan AAA reported only 5 of 54 Detroit-area gas stations were able to pump.

At noon, a phone survey conducted by OOIDA and Land Line Magazine revealed the availability of diesel (and gas) spotty all over the state. OOIDA found these fuel stops still selling diesel: Exit 76 Auto Truck Plaza (Mobil) in Byron Center, Amoco D Avenue Fuel Plaza in Kalamazoo, Don's Windmill Truck Stop Inc. in Dimondale, Downtown Mobil Mart in Grand Rapids, Cramer Truck Stop in Lachine, Gilbert's Service Oil Company in Traverse City and Haggery Mobil in Canton. In Marquette, all three Citgos had diesel for sale. The phone survey found dozens of Citgos all over Michigan with good supplies.

Speedway fuel stops in Fremont, Ravenna and Kent City reported they had no diesel; Southend Marathon in Gaylord reported it was "running low." Nadas Mobile in Webberville reported it would have diesel by 3:30 p.m.

AAA says stations are selling self-serve regular at the same price they were charging Monday - about a $1.59 per gallon. According to news reports, Michigan's Attorney General has issued a stern warning to keep it that way, reminding service stations of penalties amounting to tens of thousands of dollars if convicted of hiking prices.

While power trickled on in Ohio and parts of the East Coast, at 2 p.m. Friday afternoon, power was still out from Detroit to the state capital in Lansing. Detroit Metropolitan Airport remained open, but Northwest Airlines, its largest carrier, stopped all departing flights.

The outage closed the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, which links the United States and Canada and is used by 27,000 vehicles daily. Gov. Jennifer Granholm's office issued assurances that power was expected to be restored by the end of the weekend.

Tom Kloza, Oil Price Information Service (OPIS) told Land Line Friday that in all areas affected by the blackout, prices on the diesel side were stronger due to the loss of refining capacity for an indeterminate amount of time, but no "out-of-the-ordinary" spikes had been noticed.

"Diesel supplies are actually OK," he said. "The bigger issue has been gasoline because gas prices had been wildly going up before yesterday at 4 p.m. and it's not clear how much supply is going to be affected."

By Sandi Soendker & Keith Goble, Land Line Magazine