Nationally, AAA forecasts this August’s gas prices to be lower than in previous years – but in Pennsylvania, not so much.
The average price for regular unleaded gasoline in western Pennsylvania is $3.72 per gallon - compared to $3.52 nationally.
Teresa Thomas, AAA East Central director of public affairs, said there are two reasons for higher gas prices in the commonwealth.
“One is the gas tax, and we also use a special summer blend of fuel in seven counties in western Pennsylvania, and that makes the price a little higher than the national average,” Thomas said.
While the summer blend is intended to lower pollution rates, it increases the price of gas by 10 to 15 cents in Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington and Greene counties.
In May, Governor Tom Corbett signed into law a piece of legislation calling for an end to the summer blend. It is awaiting approval by the Environmental Protection Agency and could go into effect by next June.
However, gas prices in Pennsylvania decreased 12 cents over the last month.
“If you look back and think that they were up in recent months, and they started to drop in June to the end of July, we are getting back to where we were last year,” Thomas said.
However, the decreasing prices could hit a roadblock in August, according to Thomas.
“The biggest threat to continued falling gas prices could be a major hurricane,” Thomas said. “And August is a hurricane month, so we’ll be watching that and for any impact that a big storm might have on prices.”
Hurricanes could cause refineries to cut back on production or have major outages – something that happened in August 2012 with Hurricane Isaac, which increased the national average price by 11 cents per gallon over nine days.
Hurricane season runs from June 1st to November 30th.
But Thomas said as long as no major hurricanes hit the Gulf Coast, she believes the prices could decrease even more in Pennsylvania.
“I just want to point out the price a year ago was $3.70, and when I filled up in the South Hills…I paid less this weekend,” Thomas said. “So shop a deal, we have a Fuel Finder online.”
AAA's Fuel Finder enables drivers to compare fuel prices at different stations in their area.