published Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

Cheaper fuel cuts travel, electricity costs for Chattanoogans

GAS PRICES

• $2.97: Cheapest gas per gallon prices in Chattanooga area at selected Kangaroo, Sam's Club, Murphy USA, Citgo and Raceway stations.

• $3.06: Average cost of gallon of gasoline in Chattanooga Monday, down 3 cents a gallon from a week ago and 17 cents a gallon cheaper than a year ago

• $3.45: Average cost of a gallon of gasoline nationwide Monday, down 3 cents a gallon from a week ago and 9 cents a gallon less than a year ago.

Source: AAA Fuel Price Survey

ELECTRICITY PRICES

• $150.46: Average bill for August 2014

• $145.35: Average bill for September 2014

• $141.25: Average bill for August 2013

Source: EPB monthly bill for typical Chattanooga residence using 1,461 kilowatthours

With oil and gas production up while consumer demand remains flat, Chattanoogans are paying less for energy whether they travel or stay at home.

Motorists are enjoying the cheapest gas prices in six months while electricity prices in the Tennessee Valley will drop in September to the lowest level of the year.

Gas prices fell and remained below $3 a gallon Monday at more than a dozen gas stations in the Chattanooga area, according to GasBuddy.com. A separate survey by AAA found that the average price of a gallon of regular, unleaded gas in Chattanooga dipped again Monday to its lowest level since February.

Local gas prices are 17 cents a gallon below where they were a year ago. Heading into the end of summer, Chattanooga motorists will enjoy the cheapest fuel for a Labor Day weekend in four years with gas prices nearly a buck a gallon below their 2008 peak.

"With the end of the summer driving season nearing, we'll likely see gas prices continuing the downward trend," said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com. "For motorists, we're nearing the point that gasoline demand drops after Labor Day and also the upcoming switch back to cheaper winter gasoline will also put downward pressure on prices in mid-September."

Staying at home is also getting less expensive with TVA cutting its monthly fuel cost adjustment next month to a rate 11 percent below the average of the past three years. In Chattanooga, EPB estimates a typical homeowner will save $5.11 on the monthly light bill in September due to the lower monthly fuel cost adjustment from TVA.

"Mild weather is the primary factor in the lower fuel cost for September, which reduced demand for power in July," TVA spokesman Scott Brooks said. "This is the lowest total monthly fuel cost since December 2013."

Despite predictions of hot temperatures later this week, summertime temperatures have been milder than usual this year so TVA has not had to buy or generate as much expensive power at the peak.

While power rates will be cheaper in September because of the summertime slowdown, EPB rates will still be higher due to a base increase by TVA last October and other monthly fuel cost changes over the past year. EPB spokesman John Pless said the typical residential electric bill in Chattanooga next month will still average $4.10 more than a year ago.

TVA also is likely to add on to monthly electric bills a slight increase in October when the new fiscal year budget begins.

TVA directors are scheduled to vote Thursday on a proposed fiscal 2015 budget that is expected to include a slight increase in base rates comparable with the 1.5 percent increase in base rates TVA adopted last year.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or at 757-6340.

about Dave Flessner...

Dave Flessner is the business editor for the Times Free Press. A journalist for 35 years, Dave has been business editor and projects editor for the Chattanooga Times Free Press, city editor for The Chattanooga Times, business and county reporter for the Chattanooga Times, correspondent for the Lansing State Journal and Ingham County News in Michigan, staff writer for the Hastings Daily Tribune in Nebraska, and news director for WCBN-FM in Michigan. Dave, a native ...

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