A southern Kentucky town will begin buying gasoline direct from a local refinery and sell it to motorists to help stabilize fuel costs.

Officials say Somerset is an island of high gasoline prices, so they will purchase fuel from the town’s Continental Refining Company and sell regular-grade gasoline at a city-operated fuel center.

Prices will be based on a regional average of how much gas costs in cities within a 50-mile radius.

Residents have long complained that gasoline costs about 20 to 30 cents more in Somerset, which is about 50 miles south of Lexington and 20 miles west of Interstate 75, than in neighboring towns.

"We don't want to interfere with free enterprise," said Mayor Eddie Girdler. "We want to feel a competitive force so our citizens here in Somerset don't pay more for gasoline than they do in surrounding areas."

Starting later this month, the city will operate 10 fuel pumps with an attendant on duty between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. to allow cash sales, although credit card payments will be accepted 24 hours a day.

The city will store up to 40,000 gallons of gasoline, 40,000 gallons of diesel, and 20,000 gallons of off-road diesel fuel at its new fuel center, which will also house the city’s compressed natural gas operation.

Somerset is converting its entire city-owned fleet from gasoline to natural gas, and it's already the first fuel center in Kentucky to sell natural gas to fuel privately owned vehicles.

Watch this video posted online by WTVQ-TV:

[Image via Agence France-Presse]