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"We don't have an ARCO in Petaluma," Lutz said. "I think that would drive prices down."

Lutz thinks an ARCO in Petaluma could drive his cost down, too. If an ARCO were to pop up across the street from a Petaluma station owned directly by Chevron — of which there are two in town — he said Chevron would "definitely adjust their cost to try to compete."

But despite what drives the difference, one thing commuters at the pump can count on in the spring and summer is higher prices across the board.

Harris said this is due not only to the summer bump, but also a mild winter that encouraged travel. Harris added that crude oil has risen in price over the last several weeks due to geopolitical tension in Ukraine and Venezuela.

"We're kind of in a wait and see mode," she said.

(Contact Allison Jarrell at allison.jarrell@arguscourier.com)