Speer: Gas prices don’t provide wallet relief

Gasoline prices across the region always have been a matter of conversation. For years it seemed Alpena-area prices would be the highest in the state. In recent years, however, gas prices seemed to fall more in line with state averages.

Two news releases from GasBuddy.com crossed my desk in recent weeks. Each contained encouraging news regarding gas prices. And, in the irony of ironies, within 24 hours of having read them gas prices in Alpena jumped in price by significant margins at the pump.

The first was dated Oct. 8 and highlighted the fact that as of that date, gas was selling below $3 a gallon in 18 states across the country – including the Midwest states of Iowa, Ohio and Indiana.

At the time, gas in Alpena was selling for around $3.34 a gallon for regular unleaded. Within 24 hours, however, it had risen to $3.41 a gallon.

The increase was frustrating, as the press release predicted gas prices by Thanksgiving could drop below $3 a gallon across two-thirds of the country if supply and demand remained the same and Texas crude oil dipped in price to the mid-$90s a barrel.

I was excited – at least for an hour or so until the price jacked up.

This week Wednesday GasBuddy.com issued another release. At the time gas was selling at about $3.39 a gallon. By Wednesday night gas had reached $3.59 a gallon.

In this week’s release Patrick DeHann, senior petroleum analyst, offered several interesting facts about the price of gas across the country right now.

And, despite my personal irritation about the current price of gas, the facts are worth sharing with readers.

First, as of Tuesday this week, the U.S. had a streak of 70 consecutive days when the price of gas this year was lower than the same day last year. Aug. 6 was the last time that was not the case.

Second, less than 1 percent of the country was paying more than $4 a gallon Tuesday, while last year 15 percent of the U.S. was paying above that threshold.

Third, the difference between the highest gas in the country ($4.14) and the lowest ($2.94) was $1.19. Last year $1.50 separated the two.

Finally, this year six states were reporting gas at over $4 a gallon, while last year there were only four. Two of the six states, Alaska and Hawaii, reported 2 percent of their stations were selling gas over $4.50 a gallon. And, Hawaii reported several stations across the state were selling gas at over $5 a gallon.

I also will point out that in a trip across northern Michigan last week, gas in each of the communities I passed through was cheaper than what it was in Alpena at the time. In the case of Gaylord, I haven’t seen gas in that community less than in Alpena for over a year now, which makes that observation all the more noteworthy.

Personally, after all Americans have had to deal with the past few weeks, I was ready for some good news in my wallet, and I was thinking the gas pump might provide me with what I was hoping for.

Oh well, onto the next wish.

Bill Speer can be reached via email at bspeer@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 354-3111 ext. 331. Follow Bill on Twitter @billspeer13. Read his blog, More BS?(Bill Speer) at www.thealpenanews.com.