Cheapest cities for gas
1. Chattanooga, $1.82.5 per gallon
2. Greenville, S.C., $1.83 per gallon
3. Spartanburg, S.C., $1.83 per gallon
4. Myrtle Beach, S.C., $1.85.9 per gallon
5. Amarillo, Tex., $1.86 per gallon
Chattanooga had the cheapest average gas price in America Monday, at $1.82 a gallon, according to a nationwide survey of service stations released by GasBuddy.com.
"It's good news, isn't it?" said Gregg Laskoski, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com, which tracks prices at some 130,000 U.S. and Canadian gas stations and has a website and smartphone app that steers users to the cheapest gas.
Even better news for Chattanooga-area drivers, Laskoski said, is that gas prices here are about 54 cents lower than they were a year ago — $1.82 a gallon on average Monday, compared to $2.36 last year — and may continue to drop.
"Barring any unforeseeable events, we would expect that these prices would continue to decline incrementally," Laskoski said.
Gas prices may mirror last year's, Laskoski said, which peaked in June and then dropped below $1.50 a gallon in the winter.
"In Chattanooga, they got as low as $1.44 a gallon in February of this year," Laskoski said, which was the lowest price here since December 2008.
Drivers were happy about low gas prices Monday afternoon at the Citgo on Highway 153 in Hixson, where regular gas cost $172.9 per gallon, which put the Citgo among the lowest-priced gas in Chattanooga. Gas was around $1.72 a gallon at more than a dozen area service stations Monday, according to GasBuddy.com surveys.
"We just got back from Ohio, and their gas was high," said Kim Stevenson, of Soddy-Daisy, who came back from a trip to Akron, Ohio, during which her daughter, Ashton Stevenson, won a third place prize in the International Soap Box Derby. "It's like the closer we got here, the better [gas prices] got."
Leonard Shaw, of Powder Springs, Ga., near Atlanta, stopped at the Hixson Citgo to fill the diesel Dodge Ram pickup truck that Shaw used to haul a fifth-wheel camping trailer to a family gathering in Dale Hollow Reservoir on the Tennessee-Kentucky border.
"It's better than Atlanta," Shaw said of his decision to buy gas in Hixson. "Might as well fill up and enjoy a little bit of savings."
Gas station Manager Devang Patel said customers are happy with lower prices, including one driver who gave Patel a $20 to fill his tank, and when "it took $8, he was really thrilled."
Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com, said Chattanooga benefits by Tennessee's lower tax rate and the city's location near gas pipelines and delivery routes, which makes supplies more abundant.
Local gas prices have fallen 29 cents per gallon since the first of June, which is unusual for the traditionally busy summer driving season when travel and gas consumption rises.
But oil prices have remained muted with plentiful fuel supplies in the global market and the strong dollar cutting the dollar cost of oil imports.
"Summer travel is up, and yet, gas prices continue to decline? We know that seems perplexing for many, but that's exactly what's happening and it all comes down to those most basic fundamentals; supply and demand," Laskoski said. "Despite fuel consumption near record levels, U.S. gasoline inventory recently reached the highest July level ever recorded (240.1 million bbl) and, concurrently, the national average has continued its consistent decline."
Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at email@example.com or www.facebook.com/MeetsForBusiness or twitter.com/meetforbusiness or 423-757-6651.
This story was updated July 18 at 11:25 p.m. with more information.