Cheap gas, high heating costs balance out |

Cheap gas, high heating costs balance out

CARSON CITY – Even as federal experts predict higher heating oil prices through the winter, gasoline in Carson City has dropped by 50 cents since September.

While Carson City gas prices average $1.62 a gallon, according to the Automobile Association of America, consumers can find prices as low as $1.47 a gallon.

The statewide average remains significantly higher than the current national average of $1.50 per gallon, according to the association’s most recent gas survey.

At $1.62 per gallon, the average price of gas in Carson City is 22 cents lower than last month’s report, and 28 cents lower than September of this year.

Also surprising was that at $1.68, Reno’s per gallon price was 7 cents lower than Las Vegas’ price of $1.75.

“Occasionally Reno’s average gas price will match the price in Las Vegas, but it rarely falls below it,” said Lisa Foster, spokeswoman for AAA Nevada.

The national average of $1.50 per gallon is 5 cents lower than last month’s average. The association’s survey shows that prices are down most significantly in the West and Midwest.

Falling crude oil prices have helped lower the price at the pump, backing down from $35 per barrel to about $29 for the first time since Aug. 8, reported the AAA.

“Crude oil prices have been puffed up too high recently because of market psychology, so this decline is both welcome and expected,” said Alan Kovski, managing editor of Energy Business Watch.

“Gas prices should continue their moderate decline through February and early spring, but we are not expecting OPEC to decrease production or attempt to lower crude oil prices in the near future.

“Additionally, a cold winter can put pressure on heating oil prices, which can affect the price of crude oil and ultimately the price for gasoline.”

The association’s report is the most comprehensive retail gasoline survey available, with more than 60,000 self-serve stations surveyed nationally every day. Data is provided in cooperation with OPIS Energy Group and Wright Express LLC.

High natural gas and heating oil prices are expected to last through the winter, given the low supplies and anticipated colder temperatures, a Senate hearing was told Tuesday.

One state energy official said the country is already in ”an energy crisis” with not enough money to help poor families pay their fuel bills.

The Energy Department estimated heating bills for natural gas consumers – even with normal winter weather – will be 50 percent higher this winter than last. And the high prices are likely to stay around for a while.

About 56 million American homes are heated by natural gas.

In California, the wholesale price for natural gas in recent days has leaped beyond $40 for a thousand cubic feet because of a supply, distribution and demand crunch – the latest in a string of energy problems facing the state.

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