CHARLOTTE, N.C. (September 18, 2017): Although Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have dissipated, Carolinians have yet to feel a huge relief at the pump. Gas prices are falling, albeit very slowly, throughout the Carolinas.
In North Carolina, today the statewide average is $2.60, four cents less than a week ago, but still 40 cents more than before Harvey initially hit. This time last year, the NC average was $2.16, 44 cents less than today. In South Carolina the current average is $2.51, four cents less than a week ago, but 45 cents more than pre-Harvey. A year ago, the SC average was $2.04, 48 cents lower than it is today.
“Unfortunately gas prices don’t drop as quickly as they spike,” said Tiffany Wright, AAA Carolinas spokesperson. “The good news is that we expect prices will continue their downward trend in the next several weeks, as areas affected by Irma and Harvey recover and we continue to see positive progress with refineries, pipelines and gas deliveries.”
According to the Department of Energy, a total of six Gulf Coast refineries are operating at reduced rates, which is one more refinery than last week. These six facilities make-up 13 percent of refining capacity in the U.S. Five refineries continue to operate at reduced rates and three remain shut down, which represents a total of 10 percent of U.S. refining capacity.
It will likely be a few more weeks before the regions affected by Irma and Harvey are back to normal operations. Not a threat to make landfall, Hurricane Jose, a Category 1, is well off the shore of North Carolina. Currently, Hurricane Maria is closing in on the Leeward Islands and is expected to affect the British and U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico by mid-week, according to the National Hurricane Center. Hurricane season ends on November 30.
“Gas demand should drastically decline across the Carolinas by the end of September, as the Labor Day holiday signaled the end of the summer driving season,” added Wright. “The hope is that we could get to under the two dollar mark by Christmas.”
AAA Carolinas, an affiliate of the American Automobile Association, is a not-for-profit organization that serves more than 2.1 million members and the public with travel, automobile and insurance services while being an advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.