The long-awaited Costco gas station in Kahului opened Thursday morning with regular unleaded priced at $3.99 a gallon - about 30 cents cheaper than Maui's current islandwide average.
"This will change the face of gas prices on the island," said Jeff Cole, Costco's vice president for U.S. gasoline operations.
Cole said that the company has wanted to add a gas station to its Kahului location for at least the past five years.
Drivers line up Thursday afternoon to buy gas on the first day of Costco’s pumps being open in Kahului. The price was $3.99 for unleaded regular.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
"Gasoline is a core offering for our members, and we try to put them wherever we can," he said. "When we were able to get this property, this became a reality."
Costco bought 4 acres in Alexander & Baldwin's Maui Business Park Phase II for the expansion. (The company also is renovating and expanding the warehouse store, adding more floor space, refrigeration units and a deli with prepared foods and relocating the food court outside.)
"It's about time. I think Maui residents will finally see some lower gas prices thanks to Costco," Mayor Alan Arakawa said in a statement to The Maui News.
Maui's islandwide average price for regular gas was $4.31 Thursday, down from an average of $4.54 a week ago, according to AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report. The state average was $4.21 - the highest in the nation, followed by Alaska with an average price of $4.05.
Cole said that the company does not discuss how it determines prices at the pump.
"When members shop at Costco, it's incumbent on us to make a value proposition on everything, gasoline included," he said.
Longtime Maui Costco shopper Eugenia Feehan was the Kahului station's first customer Thursday morning.
"I like everything about Costco. It's reasonable and they have high quality - I mean it," said the Haiku resident.
Maui Food Bank officials filled up one of their delivery vans used to help feed 120,000 residents a year.
"We spend over $1,000 a month on gas for pickups and deliveries," said Keith Wright, director of operations for Maui Food Bank. "So this will definitely represent a substantial savings for the food bank."
The nonprofit organization collects food donations from Costco five days a week, including bakery and snack items.
"It's all about lowering operating costs so that we can provide more services," added Richard Yust, the nonprofit's executive director.
The entrance to the station is on the Paia side of Costco's Haleakala Highway entrance. The station is open 6 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday to Friday, and 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
The Kahului operation adds to five other gas stations in Hawaii - three on Oahu, and one each on Kauai and the Big Island.
* Nanea Kalani can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
* This article includes a correction from the original published on Friday, July 13, 2012. Due to information provided to The Maui News, Eugenia Feehan's age was incorrect. She did not want to disclose her age. The Maui News apologizes for the error.