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Rising gas prices likely to continue through Memorial Day

GAINESVILLE — Gas prices are rising, and experts expect the trend to continue.

Garrett Townsend, public affairs director for Georgia AAA, said several factors are contributing to the rising fuel prices, but drivers are still paying less than they have in years prior.

Two primary factors have contributed to the recent increase in fuel prices.

“Demand is up. We’re sort of in the midst of the spring break season, so there’s higher demand,” Townsend said. “But also, the refineries are up for maintenance. Generally, they shut down to prepare to produce the summer blends.

“So with those two factors, it’s causing a little bit of an upward pressure on gas prices.”

Prices typically drop in winter, when refineries are producing the more cost-effective winter blends.

Winter-blend fuel has a higher volatility, meaning it evaporates more easily, according to AAA. Summer blends contain about 1.7 percent more energy than winter gas to prevent excessive evaporation. But that makes summer blends more expensive to produce, and the cost is passed on to the driver.

While the price increase could plateau before summer, Townsend said to expect to see the price continue to increase over the coming months.

“Between now and Memorial Day, prices are probably going to go up another 25 cents,” he said. “Potentially, it could level out by then, but overall we’re still paying a lot less than we were a year ago.”

The average price of fuel per gallon is down nearly 25 percent compared to spring of last year.

Lower gas prices mean consumers have “extra disposable income,” Townsend previously said in a release.

While prices are expected to increase through the warmer months, Townsend said they always fluctuate.

“Even over the last two days we’ve seen the price go down a penny or two,” he said. “And motorists will still be paying less than they were last year.”