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Economy

After Pricey Summer, Idaho's Gas Prices Headed Down

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Gas prices are dropping in Idaho and around the nation. Following a regular trend, Idaho’s prices were higher this summer than the national average, but winter prices tend to be lower. One expert says there are several reasons why.

Idaho had the sixth highest gasoline price in the nation at certain times this year.

Last month, the average price for a gallon of gas in Idaho was $3.75, according to Gasbuddy.com. Since then, it's dropped more than 15 cents. As of Tuesday afternoon, some gas stations in the Boise area were selling gas for nearly 40 cents less than their summertime highs. 

Tom Kloza is Chief Oil Analyst for Gasbuddy.com. He says prices in Idaho are more seasonal than many other places.

“We speak often about gasoline prices being bi-polar, you know, having huge mood swings and I would say the mood swings just tend to be larger in the Rocky Mountain States," he says. 

Higher Summer Prices

Kloza says Northwest prices were higher this summer for a lot of reasons.

He thinks when refineries are operating in the summer, it’s at a just-in-time inventory and it can be tough to manufacture a comfortable amount of gas. He says a couple of glitches at refineries can cause prices to rise. There’s also more demand in Idaho during summer vacation season.

Ethanol makes up 10 percent of gasoline and ethanol prices have dropped by more than 60 cents since August. Kloza says expensive ethanol helps push gas prices up and cheaper ethanol helps drive them down.

And, Kloza says the summer of blend of gas costs more to produce. When refineries switched to the cheaper winter blend on September 15, the price started to fall.

Kloza also says prices go higher in Idaho because we don’t have as many Costco or Sam’s Club stores in the area. They tend to have lower gas prices, which can bring market prices down.

“Because their business model isn’t necessarily about making money on selling gasoline,” Kloza explains, “It’s about getting you inside the Costco or the Sam’s Club so you’re going to buy the 60-ounce jar of mayonnaise or whatever.”

Prices Drop In Winter

Kloza expects prices to keep dropping steadily over the next 90 days.

“You do tend to sort of struggle in the summer and you get higher than normal prices but once the winter comes, the Rocky Mountain region tends to see some of the lowest prices. I do think you’re on that track right now.”

He thinks it could be the cheapest autumn for gasoline since 2010. He expects Idaho to see its cheapest gas from mid-November through mid-January.

Find Samantha Wright on Twitter @samwrightradio

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