Fuel costs falling

Published 9:23 pm Monday, June 27, 2011

By Robert Hudson

The Selma Times-Journal

Those looking to travel by car for the upcoming Fourth of July holiday weekend can look forward to a little bit of relief at the pump.

Email newsletter signup

According to GasBuddy.com, gasoline prices in Alabama have fallen 4.4 cents in the last week, bringing the average price to $3.40 per gallon across the state.

“We have seen prices drop about 20 cents a gallon in the last few weeks alone,” said Clay Ingram with AAA- Alabama. “The drop in gas prices will help a little, but gas is still about $1 per gallon higher than it was this time last year.”

Gas prices will still be considered too high by some, which is one of the reasons AAA is predicting a slight drop in the number of Americans who will travel by automobile for the holiday.

Ingram said this year about 39 million Americans will travel 50 or more miles away from home, which is down from 40 million last year due to higher gas prices compared to last Fourth of July.

Why So High Here?

Residents of Selma can expect to pay about 7 cents more per gallon than residents in surrounding cities such as Clanton and Greenville.

This, Ingram says, is due to a number of different factors.

“Some of the discrepancy in gas prices is due to local tax structure and differences in state, federal and city taxes,” Ingram said. “Another factor is geographic location. If a city is not close to a distributor, then you have to factor in the travel cost from the distributor to the city.

“Some gas stations are owned by local, mom-and-pop businesses and others are owned by oil companies,” he said. “This can also lead to a difference in price. For instance, Shell determines gas prices for all its stations at its national headquarters.”

Ingram said prices can be determined by any number of factors and some stations simply sell gas at whatever price they want.

“If they think they can sell as much gas at $3.60 per gallon as they can at $3.40 per gallon, then there’s no motivation to lower the price,” Ingram said.

Driving Off

Selma Police Department’s Lt. Mike Harris said people driving off without paying for gas used to be a problem motivated by high gas prices, but that has since changed due to new policies by gas station owners.

“It’s not much of a problem anymore because 95 percent of business owners require you to pay first,” Harris said. “Now someone might drive off without paying once every three or four weeks.”