The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

November 14, 2013

Ashtabula County drivers enjoy falling fuel prices

Some spots briefly sold gas below $3 a gallon

By MARK TODD - mtodd@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

— Pumping gas has been more a pleasure than pain in recent days, thanks to falling fuel prices across the region.

The average price of gas in Ashtabula County hovered just below $3.10 a gallon, 25 cents less than what people paid one year ago, according to data from the AAA East Central office in Pittsburgh. Prices dipped below $3 at two locations in Conneaut on Tuesday night, but climbed to $3.01 on Wednesday morning.

That plunge — although temporary, — marked the first time in nearly three years that per-gallon prices broke the $3 barrier in Ashtabula County, a spokeswoman at the AAA East Central office said Wednesday. The county’s previous low of $2.99 cents was recorded the week of Dec. 21, 2010, the spokeswoman said.

As of early Wednesday afternoon, the county’s cheapest price for a gallon of gas was the $3.01 at stations in Conneaut and Geneva, according to gasbuddy.com, a website that charts fuel prices. Many locations across the county were charging only a few cents more, according to the website. The best prices in Ohio on Wednesday were found in the Toledo area, where a gallon of gas cost less than $2.80.

On average, local motorists are paying less than their counterparts across northeast Ohio, where $3.09 cents was the norm, according to the AAA. That’s 14 cents per gallon less than people paid just one week ago, officials said. On Tuesday, the national average for fuel was about $3.19 a gallon, according to the AAA, the lowest nationwide average since February 2011.

Low demand and healthy supplies account for the price break, according to the AAA. Crude oil prices also fell below $100 a barrel earlier this week for the first time in 15 weeks, contributing to the discount.

Local government also benefits from tumbling prices. Recently, Ashtabula County has seen savings when ordering gasoline and diesel fuel for its fleet, which ranges from sheriff deputy cruisers to dump trucks, said Amir Garakouei, highway department superintendent. The county has no annual contract for its fuel purchases and is free to shop around each time storage tanks get low — which can be as often as once a week, depending on usage.

“Every time we buy fuel, we call around to get the best price,” Garakouei said.

Garakouei said he hopes the lower prices hang around awhile, especially since winter plowing season has arrived.