$3.02 - Average price per gallon of gas in Chattanooga Monday
$3.16 - Average price per gallon of gas in Chattanooga a year ago
$3.19 - Average price per gallon of gas nationwide on Monday
Source: AAA Fuel Gauge Price Survey
Chattanooga gas prices dropped another penny a gallon on Monday, continuing a 7-week drop in prices at the pump that should soon push fuel prices to their lowest level in three years.
According to AAA fuel gauge surveys of service stations nationwide, gas prices in Chattanooga are 14 cents a gallon below what they were a year ago and 17 cents a gallon below the U.S. average. With cooler weather and less leisure driving, AAA experts expect gasoline demand and prices should continue to fall over the next few weeks.
"Right now, all indications are that prices should continue to drop given that supplies remain very abundant, demand is declining and the price of oil has fallen," said Michael Green, a manager at AAA who helps track gas price trends.
U.S. oil production grew in October to the highest level since March 1989 and the price of oil has dropped by about $10 a barrel since late August. The cost of gas historically falls toward the end of the year because the peak driving season has ended and there is a seasonal shift to a cheaper winter blend of gas.
Nationwide, gas prices are the cheapest since February 2011 with about one of every four service stations now selling gasoline below $3 a gallon, Green said. Tennessee prices are the lowest since last December but are expected to fall below that level within the next week or two.
AAA surveys indicate the average price of a gallon of gasoline nationwide is down about 25 cents a gallon. Such a price reduction, if sustained over the course of an entire year, would save American consumers nearly $33 billion.
More than three dozen stations across the Chattanooga region were selling regular gas below $3 a gallon on Monday. At Sam's Club on Lee Highway, gas is selling at $2.88.9 a gallon - the lowest in the region according to GasBuddy.com - and cars were lined up at the Walmart-owned outlet all day on Monday.
"I'm glad to see prices come down, but prices still aren't where they should be yet as far as I'm concerned," James LaMance, a Red Bank motorist, said while filling up his Ford 150 on Monday. "But we'll take what we can get."
Marty Fanburg, an 81-year-old businessman from Fort Payne, Ala., said he shops all over the region to get the best price and drove to Sam's to take advantage of the lowest prices in town.
"I'm constantly checking for cheaper prices," said Fanburg, who said he spent more than $5,000 last year in gasoline driving his Dodge Ram 1500. "Gas is cheaper than a year ago, and I'm glad to see it. But it seems like it's too easy and quick for everybody to raise prices and not enough people pressuring to get prices down."
Contact Dave Flessner at email@example.com or at 757-6340.