Eclipse, hurricanes drove increase in gas prices

Idaho drivers paid 28 cents more for a gallon of gas in 2017 than a year before, according to an AAA Idaho news release. 

AAA attributes the higher gas price to an increase in travel, particularly for the August solar eclipse. Idaho was one of the few states where viewers could see a total eclipse.

“On the heels of eclipse travel, the three major hurricanes shocked the oil and petroleum markets, and gas prices jumped dramatically to end the summer,” AAA Idaho Spokesman Matthew Conde said in the release. “While holiday travel remained high, fuel prices finally relaxed to end the year, dropping by 20 cents on the national average and by 24 cents here in Idaho.”

Idaho Falls tied with Pocatello for the lowest average gas price for the year among Idaho cities, at $2.44 a gallon.

Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria shut down several refineries along the Gulf Coast, affecting distribution. AAA Idaho also attributes the rising gas prices to the United States nearly doubling its crude oil exports to Central and South America, from 555,000 barrels a day in 2016 to one million a day in 2017.

Drivers paid an average of $2.29 a gallon in 2016, the lowest price since 2005. With the increase to $2.57 a gallon in 2017, Idahoans found themselves paying 18 cents more per gallon than the national average.

Gas prices are expected to decline as the end of the holidays and winter snowfall keep drivers off the roads. Population growth in Idaho and consumer confidence are expected to drive an increase throughout the year. AAA predicts gas prices to increase again in 2018, with the average being between $2.65 and $2.85 per gallon.

Reporter Johnathan Hogan can be reached at 208-542-6746.