Utah records lowest gas prices in the nation

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A report from AAA shows the average price of gasoline is 50 cents lower than one month ago. At an average of $2.90 per gallon, Utah prices are now the lowest in the nation.

According to Rolayne Fairclough, AAA Utah spokesperson, Utah gas prices are not always so low compared to the national average. “There is a trend in gasoline pricing in Utah which typically has us paying some of the highest prices in the warmer months — spring, summer and fall — and then paying some of the lowest prices in the country in the winter months. This year seems to follow that pattern.”

Ryan Gordon, 32, from Spanish Fork, Utah, sets the price of gas based on national trends, not based on the rush of students arriving back to Provo. Photo by Tim Shaw

If not for increased demand during the holiday travel season, Fairclough says the price drop between December and January would not have been so significant.

MacKenzie Booth, a junior from Ogden studying athletic training, drives to Spanish Fork daily. She said recently she’s been filling her gas tank almost every week.

“It’s actually saving me a lot of money,” Booth said. “It used to be about 60 bucks to fill up my tank, and now it’s only about $45.”

Booth saw Provo gas price down to $2.95 in early December but preferred to fill up for $2.88 per gallon when she was home in Ogden after finals. She hopes that prices in Provo will continue to go down. But will prices around Provo now escalate with the return of so many student residents?

“It’s on more of a macro basis of what Utah and the United States does as a whole,” Ryan Gordon said. Gordon, 32, manages the Chevron station across from LaVell Edwards Stadium. During winter break, he saw half as many fill-ups and inside sales. Even though it is much busier now, Gordon said the privately owned Chevron station does not raise its price to capitalize on the student traffic. As of noon Wednesday, the price at this station was $2.89, seven cents below AAA’s reported average for Provo this week.

For those who wonder how long the low prices will last, national prices will steadily rise until late spring but should not reach last year’s marks. In a nationwide press release, Michael Green, AAA public relations manager, predicted that the national average may reach $3.60–$3.80 per gallon if the country can get through 2013 without natural disaster or political conflict with Middle Eastern oil suppliers.

This will mean Provo residents should expect to see summer prices at or above $3.80 since Utah typically goes above the national average in the warmer months. The highest record average price in Utah was $4.22 on July 18, 2008. The national average that week reached $4.11 per gallon.

For more on fuel prices across the nation, visit fuelgaugereport.aaa.com and track daily changes.

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