AAA: Little relief at the pump

At a time of the year when motorists should see gas prices decline, Kentuckians continue to endure rising prices at the pump. AAA says expensive crude oil prices and regional refinery maintenance are two major factors contributing to the upsurge.

Kentucky had the second highest increase in gas price in the nation compared to last week. Ohio led the nation while Indiana tied for third place for largest weekly gas price increase.

As Hurricane Michael reached landfall, gas supplies were likely to tighten in the Gulf Coast portion of the Florida panhandle and surrounding areas impacted by the hurricane. The severity of the storm will determine access to fuel supply and impact on gas prices in Florida and Georgia.

The current Kentucky gas price average is $2.80, a penny lower than Tuesday and 2 cents lower than a week ago. In Lexington, the gas price average is currently at $2.81, down 3 cents from yesterday and 13 cents since a week ago. The Lexington average is still 57 cents higher than a year ago, with the Kentucky average up 51 cents from a year ago.

However, we are still not expecting a gasoline shortage to affect Kentucky or other states outside the affected region. Instead, temporary shortages may be felt in certain areas affected by the storm.

Forecasts for Hurricane Michael have predicted that the hurricane will not affect critical Gulf Coast infrastructure (refineries, pipelines). If this prediction changes, AAA will update information accordingly. However, heavy rain and high winds could affect refineries in Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana.

Supply could be limited and fuel deliveries disrupted to hurricane-impacted areas. If power is lost and roads are closed, gasoline deliveries will not resume until power is restored and roads are opened.

As in any national or local state of emergency, AAA expects gas prices to be held in check — up and down the gasoline supply chain — including prices set by refiners, distributors and dealers.

TRAVEL CONSIDERATIONS

• AAA urges Kentuckians traveling south to check with their travel agent and travel providers for cancelation policies and itinerary changes.

• Travelers should heed all official evacuation advisories and orders. If you are flying, check with your airline on their change fee and rebooking policies. Check your flight status before leaving for the airport and consider signing up for text or mobile alerts from your airline for the latest flight information. Airports in the panhandle region of Florida have closed until conditions there permit air travel again.

• Contact your travel agent – they will have access to the latest travel updates/cancellations and can help you explore all of the options available to you.

• Investigate cancellation/rebooking options immediately. (Plan ahead, understand the situation may change now that the storm has reached landfall.)

• Understand cancellation requirements and penalties if applicable.

• Know what coverage any purchased travel insurance does/does not provide.

• Continuously monitor the situation as things can change quickly and dramatically.

National Gas Price Average Up

The national gas price average is about 3 cents higher than a week ago, at about $2.91, with all but seven states paying more on the week. The average across the country is 6 cents more than a month ago and 41 cents more than a year ago.

QUICK STATS

• The nation’s top 10 most expensive markets are: Hawaii ($3.84), California ($3.80), Washington ($3.44), Alaska ($3.33), Oregon ($3.29), Nevada ($3.27), Idaho ($3.13), Pennsylvania ($3.08), Washington, D.C. ($3.05) and Connecticut ($3.03).

• The nation’s top 10 largest weekly increases are: Ohio (+9 cents), Kentucky (+8 cents), Louisiana (+7 cents), California (+7 cents), Indiana (+7 cents), Virginia (+ 6 cents), New Jersey (+6 cents), Georgia (+6 cents), Washington, D.C. (+6 cents) and Alabama (+5 cents).

AAA offers these tips to motorists to save at the pump:

• If your vehicle’s engine does not require premium or mid-grade fuel, don’t buy it. Using anything other than regular grade is simply a waste of money.

• Don’t top off your gas tank. Stop filling after the automatic nozzle shuts off the second time.

• If you have to replace a gas cap, make sure it is the right one for your car. An ill-fitting cap will increase emissions and trigger the “check engine” light.

• Keep track of gas mileage. If you notice a sudden decrease in fuel economy, have your vehicle checked by a technician to ensure it is operating properly.

AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to 57 million members nationwide and more than 600,000 members in Kentucky. AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years. The not-for-profit, fully tax-paying member organization works on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information, visit www.aaa.com.