FRANKLIN COUNTY >> Gas prices have hit at least $3.85 at many local stations, but an expert says prices have peaked and are starting to fall.
According to www.gasbuddy.com, prices throughout Chambersburg on Thursday ranged from $3.79 at stores like Sheetz at 1 Monticello Court and Bill’s Kwik Chek at 816 Lincoln Way West, to $3.89 at Shell at 1070 Wayne Ave.
The average price is about 20 cents higher than a month ago, according to the website.
The increase generally happens each spring due to refinery maintenance and a switch to the “summer blend,” a cleaner burning fuel, according to Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst with gasbuddy.com.
“It’s important to remember why it began,” DeHaan said in a statement. “The summer gasoline requirement was a critical part of the Clean Air Act. It was approved with overwhelming support by Congress and signed into law by President George H.W. Bush in 1990. At the time, the three major environmental threats were acid rain, urban air pollution, and toxic air emissions. That’s why the Environmental Protection Agency regulates the volatility of conventional gasoline sold at retail stations during the summer smog season (June 1- Sept. 15) to reduce evaporative emissions that contribute to smog.”
The gasoline switch and refinery maintenance usually create an increase of 25 to 50 cents, he told Public Opinion.
The average cost of gas in Pennsylvania peaked around May 1 and 2, DeHaan said. The state average began going down over the past three days, he added.
DeHaan expects prices to drop 5 to 10 cents by Memorial Day.
“Usually June is one of the best summer months for the pump,” he said.
This should be welcome news to local businesses that offer delivery service.
To make most efficient use of their gas money for the several hundred deliveries a week throughout a 15-mile radius, All Occasions Florist in Chambersburg tries to make as few trips as possible.
“We just gather as many orders going in a particular direction as possible,” said Scott Douglas, delivery coordinator.
Schier’s Furniture Market began charging for delivery two years ago in order to make up for higher gas prices, said Rick Bonner, operations manager. The business delivers to locations within 50 miles of the Chambersburg and Waynesboro stores.
For some organizations, volunteers are responsible for paying for the gas they need to complete their duties.
“It doesn’t affect us that much because our people are volunteers and they use their own vehicles and pay for their own (gas). We haven’t lost any volunteers so I’m assuming they’re OK,” said Rena Moore of Chambersburg Meals on Wheels.
According to DeHaan, the downward trend for gas prices should continue through early July. Prices can become less predictable after that point, though, as hurricane season picks up.
“There’s always the possibility of a significant event that could mess up the forecast,” he said.
But still, the type of gasoline used in the summer produces better gas mileage, DeHaan said in the release. The type of gas used in the winter has a lower energy content and decreases fuel economy up to 3 percent.
Despite the upward trend that generally happens each spring, DeHaan warned that consumers should not put much stock into comparing prices year to year. The state average this time last year was $3.44; prices began rising in January, earlier than this year, and peaked at about $3.80 around Valentine’s Day, then dipped down again before peaking again in July, DeHaan said.
Amber South can be reached at 262-4771.
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