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Staff photo by Doug Strickland / Richard Evans fills up his gas tank.

After rising a week ago to the highest average price in nearly seven years, Chattanooga gas prices fell 3.5 cents per gallon in the past week, according to price surveys of 170 local stations by GasBuddy.com.

The average price of regular gas fell just over 1% from a week ago to $2.75 a gallon on Monday in Chattanooga even with about one of every seven gas stations in Tennessee still without fuel Monday morning due to the lingering impact of the Colonial Pipeline shutdown earlier this month. Chattanooga gas prices, on average, remain 27 cents a gallon below the national average.

The $2.44 per gallon price for regular fuel sold at Sam's Club on Monday in Chattanooga was the third lowest of any station in the state, GasBuddy.com said.

Despite the drop in fuel prices in the past week, however, gas prices in Chattanooga going into the Memorial Day holiday weekend were still up $1.09 per gallon from a year ago when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down most travel.

GasBuddy.com said 12 days after the Colonial Pipeline restored gas deliveries, 27% of the gas stations in Georgia and 14% of the gas stations in Tennessee were still without fuel Monday morning.

"Although the pipeline is currently operating, some gas stations continue to see fuel outages as supply logistics work to return to normal," said Montrae Waiters, a spokeswoman for auto club AAA.

Gas stations out of fuel

Nearly two weeks after Colonial Pipeline began restoring gas deliveries in the dozen Southeastern U.S. states that were cut off during a pipeline outage, many gas stations remained without fuel Monday. The share of service stations without fuel Monday morning in the tri-state area were:

› Georgia — 27%

› Tennessee — 14%

› Alabama — 5%

Source: GasBuddy.com update as of 9 a.m. Monday

Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy, said it is unusual to see a drop in gas prices ahead of the traditionally busy travel period around the Memorial Day weekend ahead.

"With oil's recent move lower, we should start to see more drops at the pump materialize in the days ahead," DeHaan said. "With the Colonial Pipeline situation continuing to improve in Southeastern states, fueling up for the holiday weekend shouldn't be too challenging, save for a few pockets in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina where outages remain a bit higher than neighboring states. For those hitting the road, we should see prices inch lower in the coming week through at least Memorial Day, so motorists need not rush to fill their tanks as the drop in oil prices should manifest into lower gas prices as we begin the summer driving season."

While filling up your vehicle may be getting cheaper, heating or cooling your home won't be less expensive in the days ahead. The Tennessee Valley Authority, which raised its monthly fuel cost adjustment in April by nearly a third after previous declines, will increase its fuel cost adjustment by another 0.4% in June.

For the typical Chattanooga residential customer of EPB, the monthly electric bill next month for 1,295 kilowatthours will rise 10 cents from the current charge to $141.04 and will be $4.17, or 3% above the rate a year ago.

Despite the increases this spring, however, TVA's wholesale electricity prices overall are still below levels of five years ago, TVA spokesman Scott Brooks said. TVA fuel costs fell during the pandemic as energy consumption declined but the prices of natural gas and other fuels have increased in recent months as energy use has rebounded. TVA also has granted credits to its local power companies that have signed 20-year contracts with TVA, lowering TVA's wholesale power rates by 3.1%.

"The overall system average fuel rate for June is nearly unchanged from the three-year average and May's fuel rate," Brooks said.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6340.

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