Latest from The Spokesman-Review
OUTDOOR TRAVEL — The Canadian — Rockies, ski resorts, fishing waters — are calling louder than ever.
Pack the bags, baby, this a great opportunity to head north across the border.
Plagued primarily by plummeting oil prices, the Canadian dollar — the loonie — reached its lowest value in six years in recent days, trading on the global market for barely 79 cents U.S.
- Click here to view a conversion calculator showing the exchange costs for U.S. and Canadian currencies.
A year ago, anxieties were already rising after the loonie dipped below 90 cents for the first time since mid-2009.
This is troublesome for business that rely on Canadian tourists coming to the US, but it's an invitation for US citizens to visit Canada.
Analysts forecast the loonie may keep dropping in value through spring and potentially summer perhaps as low as 75 cents U.S.
Kootenai County gas prices have fizzled to the lowest they’ve been since May 2009.
HUNTING/FISHING — Declining fuel prices are good news for hunters in the peak of the fall seasons as well as for steelhead anglers pulling boats to the big rivers:
The national average price for regular unleaded gasoline has dropped for 18 straight days to a national average of $3.20 a gallon, according to American Automobile Association surveys.
Pacific states as well as Idaho are still among the most expensive regions for purchasing gas, but Washington ranks third in the nation for the rate of fuel-price drop in the past month.
The national price represents a 2014 low and is the lowest average for the Columbus Day holiday since 2010 when gas averaged $2.81 a gallon, AAA reports.
Today’s average price is nine cents less than one week ago, 20 cents less than one month ago and 15 cents less than one year ago.
Drivers in six states are paying an average price below three dollars per gallon to refuel their vehicles with eight additional states posting prices within a nickel of this mark.
- Missouri has the lowest gas price average per gallon: $2.90.
- Hawaii has the highest: $4.13.
- California has the highest in the continental U.S.: $3.60.
- New York and Oregon both are at $3.52.
- Washington's average is $3.51. That’s 11 cents lower than a week ago and down 33 cents in a month. But it’s 31 cents higher than the national average.
- Idaho's average is $3.46, although Coeur d'Alene is well below the average at $3.23
- Montana's average is $3.39, with prices significantly lower — $3.17 — at Superior on I-90 60 miles west of Missoula.
Washington metro prices from today’s AAA survey include:
Bellingham $3.57, Bremerton $3.35, Seattle-Bellevue-Everett $3.61, Tacoma $3.43, Olympia $3.45, Vancouver $3.50, Yakima $3.49, Tri-Cities $3.49, and Spokane $3.44.
Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho motorists are finally getting a break at the gas pump. AAA Idaho reports that gasoline prices have dipped below the national average. The state's 26-cent drop in prices in the last 30 days is also the nation's biggest price decline. The state's average price on Tuesday as $3.15 per gallon, down from $3.41 a month ago and $3.43 the same time a year ago. AAA Idaho spokesman Dave Carlson says the last time Idaho's average price dipped this low was in late January. The national average price is $3.20, and three states have average prices below the $3 mark — Missouri, Oklahoma and Kansas. Pump prices vary across the state, from $3.19 in Boise to $2.93 in Coeur d'Alene and $3.23 in Lewiston.
Idahoans are now paying the seventh-highest gas prices in the country, AAA reports today, at an average $3.75 a gallon, down about 5 cents from a month ago, but well above the $3.48 national average. Washington is even higher, ranking fourth in the nation at $3.79; Utah is 10th at $3.71. AAA Idaho says gas prices mostly have been dropping around the nation, but western states haven’t seen the big drop. Now, with the uncertainty in Egypt, the motorist group expects gas prices to rise again.
“We’re constantly reminded that oil is an international commodity, priced in ways that may make no sense here in Idaho,” said Dave Carlson, AAA Idaho spokesman. “Motorists are also influenced by regional supply fluctuations that they have no potential to influence.”
AAA’s daily fuel gage report from around the state showed these pump prices in Idaho today: Idaho Falls, $3.63; Pocatello, $3.70; Coeur d’Alene, $3.62; Lewiston, $3.65; Boise, $3.80; Nampa, $3.82; and Twin Falls, $3.76.
Nationwide, the most expensive gas was in Hawaii at $4.30 a gallon, followed by Alaska, $4.04; and California, $3.98.
Gas prices across the nation have just posted their biggest one-week decline since 2008, AAA Idaho reports, but Idaho hasn't yet felt it. In the Gem State, gas prices are averaging $3.82 a gallon, 19 cents higher than the U.S. average and down just a penny in the last week. The national average dropped 13 cents in the last week to $3.63 a gallon.
AAA predicts that national average gas prices will fall to between $3.40 and $3.65 by Election Day - just two weeks away - and down to $3.25 to $3.40 by Thanksgiving. But in Idaho? "We don't know," said Dave Carlson, director of public and government affairs. "I would think it's safe to say that we should see some decline in prices." You can read AAA's full news release here.
Idaho's gas prices have jumped 5.5 cents a gallon in the past week, AAA Idaho reports, pushing the state's average price up to $3.855, a penny higher than the national average of $3.843. A month ago, Idaho's average price for a gallon of regular gasoline was 12 cents below the national average; since then, it's risen 28 cents a gallon.
Still, AAA Idaho notes it could be worse: Nine states currently have average prices above $4 a gallon, including Oregon at $4.04 and Washington at $4.06.
As gas prices shoot up dramatically across the nation, Idaho's escaped much of the latest jump, AAA Idaho reports, with Idaho's average gas price now sitting at $3.59 per gallon. That's 11 cents less than the national average, and 40 cents below the West Coast average. The national average has shot up seven cents in the past week and 30 cents in the past month, amid various domestic supply and distribution issues and an uptick in oil prices. The problems have included a Richmond, Calif. oil refinery fire that particularly impacted California and other West Coast states. California's average gas price is now $4.10; Oregon is at $3.89 - up 21 cents in the past week - and Washington is also at $3.89.
Dave Carlson, AAA spokesman, said Idaho still could see some impact. "How high gas prices will move on the West Coast depends on how quickly the Richmond refinery is operating and how much of the slack caused by the fire there can be picked up by regional refineries," he said. "Whether Idaho prices will be similarly affected will depend on whether gasoline intended for this market is diverted elsewhere." You can read more here.
AAA is predicting more holiday travelers covering more miles over the July 4 holiday this year, with a jump big enough to tie the past decade's high mark, set in 2007 prior to the recession. "We view the projected increase in travel as a positive signal, even though it's surrounded by a mixed bag of economic drivers," said Dave Carlson, AAA Idaho public affairs director. Factors pushing toward more travelers include the holiday falling in the middle of the week, which likely will prompt more travelers to make longer trips and extend their holidays. A survey by AAA found that 54 percent of those planning to travel for the holiday will begin their trip prior to the start of the work week that includes the Wednesday holiday.
The motorists' group also cited stable airfares and declining gas prices nationwide, though Idaho's average gas price is now six cents a gallon higher than it was a year ago; the U.S. average gas price is 15 cents per gallon lower than it was a year ago. Idaho now has the sixth highest average gas price of any U.S. state. Though more travelers are expected to travel farther this year, they're also expected to spend less each; median spending is expected to be down 7 percent from last year.
Washington and other West Coast states have the highest gas prices in the nation – in some case 50 cents higher than the national average.
In the Spokane area, average prices remain below $4 a gallon, according to AAA’s Daily Fuel Guage Report.
On the state’s west side, average prices for a gallon of regular gasoline are $4.25 in the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett market, $4.26 in Tacoma and $4.34 in Bellingham, AAA reports.
Statewide the average is $4.21, up 13 cents since last week. Meanwhile, the national average price dropped 5 cents to $3.73.
“The West Coast is zigging while the rest of the country is zagging,” said Tom Kloza, publisher and chief oil analyst at the Oil Price Information Service.
A shortage of gasoline tied to issues at the region’s refineries has caused prices to spike in the wholesale market, analysts said.
Vigorously defending his policies, President Barack Obama ridiculed critics of renewable energy sources Thursday, calling them naysayers and comparing them to the flat-earthers of yesteryear. Obama did not mention his detractors by name, merely referring to them as "professional politicians." But his targets were clear. "A lot of the folks who are running for a certain office who shall go unnamed, they've been talking down new sources of energy," Obama told a crowd of students at Prince George's Community College in Washington's Maryland suburbs. "They dismiss wind power. They dismiss solar power. They make jokes about biofuels. They were against raising fuel standards. I guess they like gas-guzzlers," he said/CBS News. More here.
Question: Who do you blame for the current high gas prices?
The AAA auto club reports the average price of a gallon of gas in Washington is $3.98. That’s up 4 cents in a week and 46 cents in a month. It’s 18 cents higher than the national average.
Some metro prices from the AAA’s Monday survey: Bellingham $4.08, Bremerton $3.98, Seattle-Bellevue-Everett $4.05, Tacoma $4.02, Olympia $4.03, Vancouver $4.02, Yakima $3.83, Tri-Cities $3.76, and Spokane $3.67.
Gasoline prices have finally dropped after 27 days. The nationwide average for regular unleaded slipped less than a penny to $3.764 per gallon today. That ended a streak of price hikes that began on Feb. 8.
Pump prices rose by more than 28 cents per gallon in that period, making gasoline the most expensive ever for this time of year, the Associated Press reports.
Gasoline already tops $4 per gallon in California, Alaska and Hawaii. It’s near the $4 mark in several other states, including Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Oregon and parts of Washington.
Despite the one-day drop, experts predict that gasoline will continue to rise over the next several weeks. The Oil Price Information Service predicts the nationwide average could peak at $4.25 per gallon in late April.
AAA Idaho predicts an increase in Thanksgiving travel, but credit that to a longing to be with family, not gas prices. The travel agency expects 14 percent of the state's population — a 4.1 percent increase from a year ago - will travel at least 50 miles from home during the holiday. The prediction is "not because of any major improvements in the overall economic market, and obviously not with the help of gasoline prices, but because there is a pent-up demand among Americans to spend time with family," said Dave Carlson, AAA spokesman/Brian Walker, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.
Question: Do you plan to travel far this Thanksgiving? Or is someone traveling far to visit you?
While gas prices in Idaho are considerably higher than they were a year ago, AAA Idaho says they're down from the level of a month ago, and nationwide, 4 percent more Americans are expected to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday. The auto owners group reports that today's average gas price in Idaho is $3.46 per gallon, 52 cents higher than a year ago, but 15 cents less than a month ago. The national average gas price is $3.34, down 12 cents from last month's average of $3.46.
AAA is also advising motorists to check road conditions before they head out for the holiday, either by dialing 511 or going to www.511.idaho.gov.
Average retail gasoline prices in Spokane rose 0.2 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.72 per gallon Sunday, according to gasoline price website SpokaneGasPrices.com.
This compares with the national average that increased 6.3 cents per gallon in the past week, to $3.63.
Prices locally are 77.6 cents per gallon higher than at this point a year ago, and are 11.4 cents per gallon lower than one month ago.
Motorists traveling around the Inland Northwest will be paying less for gasoline than they did even a month ago.
Prices are down by 20 to 50 cents per gallon since they peaked in late spring and over the Memorial Day holiday.
This week’s AAA survey shows the best deal on petrol is in southeast Idaho, where prices are at $3.39 per gallon in Pocatello and a dime higher in Idaho Falls.
The most expensive pump prices are in Ketchum/Hailey, where prices are at $3.87 per gallon.
In Washington state, AAA reports the average price for regular-grade fuel is $3.80 per gallon, down from $4 or more per gallon during the spring months.
Many pumps in Spokane were set at about $3.70 a gallon on Friday.
Prices in Boise were at $3.69, compared to $3.73 in Lewiston and $3.61 in Coeur d’Alene.
AAA Idaho Spokesman Dave Carlson says geographic isolation, wholesale suppliers and local retail competition influence pricing and disparities between cities.
Elsewhere, AAA reports the national average per-gallon price has dropped 44 cents since early May, compared to just a 13 cent decline in Idaho.
It's almost a certainty that someone reading today's print Slice, in which I refer to the start of long car-drive season, will politely note that I seem to have forgotten about gas prices.
Not really. I just haven't noticed motorists abandoning their cars.
Sure, some people change their habits. A little. But most just complain.
Today's interesting business-related chart or graphic comes by way of the feds, and from DOE in specific.
It's the typical breakdown, based on U.S. averages, for what goes into the cost of a gallon of gas.
This was created in winter of 2010 and the average price of gas has soared since then, but the general percentages seem not to have changed too much. Notably, only about 71 percent of the cost of gas at the pump is for the cost of crude oil.
The adjustment for Idaho and Washington's portion of taxes shows this.
This chart was created when the U.S. price for regular averaged about $2.86.
Today it's averaging $3.808, according to AAA. In Washington the regular price average on Wednesday is $3.89. In Idaho it's $3.64, also from AAA data.
State, federal and local taxes account for about 56 center per gallon of regular in Washington. In Idaho the number is 43 cents per gallon of regular.
Montie Davis cranks up his 2002 Grand Cherokee for a 4-mile trip to the gym and a 2-mile trip to his job at the bakery department at Fred Meyer several times a week from his home near Amity Road. The way he figures it, he’s putting a lot of wear and tear on the engine of his 70,000-mile vehicle, plus dumping about $60 into the gas tank every time it needs filling. So Davis, 65, recently bought a 150 cc scooter that gets about 75 miles to the gallon. As the weather warms, he intends to take it for the short hauls and save his Cherokee for the longer fishing trips he savors. “It’s going to help,” he said/Bill Roberts, Statesman. More here. (AP file photo)
Question: Have you considered buying a scooter to drive around town and save money on gas?
The price of gas continues rising and the busiest driving season is a few months away.
The Associated Press reports the average price of gas in Washington has reached $3.88 per gallon of regular gas.
Prices quoted rely on a AAA auto club survey of stations and dealers across the state. The $3.88 figure is 6 cents more than last week and 24 cents up from a month ago.
And it's 11 cents higher than the national average.
The AP reports these average prices for cities:
- Spokane $3.78
- Bellingham $3.98
- Bremerton $3.90
- Seattle-Bellevue-Everett $3.89
- Tacoma $3.88
- Olympia $3.91
- Vancouver $3.81
- Yakima $3.84
POST FALLS - If gas prices haven't topped off yet, AAA expects them to before hitting $4 a gallon.
While prices continue to climb about a dime a week - they averaged $3.43 a gallon in Coeur d'Alene on Wednesday and a nickel more in Post Falls - the end is likely in sight, said Dave Carlson, AAA Idaho spokesman.
"Given what we're seeing at the moment, it's consistent with AAA's earlier predictions that U.S. pump prices should top out in the neighborhood of $3.75, barring unforeseen events," Carlson said. Read more. Brian Walker, Cda Press
How much does it cost you to fill up your tank these days?
Gas prices have jumped by 18 cents, the second-largest one-week increase since 1990, the AAA reports, second only to the September 2005 spike after Hurricane Katrina. The rise pushed the average U.S. gas price to $3.47 per gallon, and the Idaho average to $3.28 a gallon, AAA said; you can see their latest gas prices report here, including price comparisons in six Idaho communities.
Gas prices in Spokane and Coeur d'Alene show no sign of retreating. The price per gallon of regular jumped three cents in both cities from Monday to Tuesday.
From Tuesday to Wednesday the price jumped another three cents, on average, in Spokane.
That would be from $3.21 to $3.24 per gallon of regular, according to data found on GasBuddy.com.
Not surprising, you're going to find an increasing number of apps and tools to help find the best prices in your location.
We've found five which are either free or cost very little: GasBuddy's own smartphone app; iGasUp, which uses data from Oil Price Information Service (OPIS); something called GasBook; an app called Poynt (which does more than gas pricing); and an iPhone only app called Local Gas Prices.
Today's Spokesman Review story on the rise in gas prices indicates people are concerned enough to cut down on travel trips or use less expensive means of transport.
One follow-up received here came from LeaseTrader.com, a site to help companies finding or leasing vehicles.
Their comment on the impact of higher prices has two points to make:
—Based off 2008 modeling, LeaseTrader.com believes drivers won't take specific action (reduced gas consumption, exiting lease contracts) until gas reaches $4 per gallon.
A local convenience store in Lawrence, Kan., had to improvise when fuel prices required more number two's than were on hand Thursday. Oil prices rose again Thursday as the rebellion in Libya appeared to have shut down even more oil production than previously estimated. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
Question: How much higher do gas prices have to go before your driving habits are affected?
Idaho’s average gas price is now $2.99 per gallon, up four cents in the past three weeks and 31 cents above the national average of $2.68, according to AAA of Idaho. But the AAA is forecasting a 10 percent increase in auto travel over the Labor Day holiday weekend in Idaho and the region, compared to last year, despite the pricier gas. “We do not expect Idaho’s higher gas prices will have any sizable impact on travel intentions, though the final tally may have more to say on that topic,” said Dave Carlson, director of public and government affairs for AAA Idaho.
The group’s daily fuel gauge report showed that Idaho’s average gas price ties for the fifth-most expensive gas in the country, behind only Alaska, $3.51 per gallon; Hawaii, $3.47; California, $3.08; and Washington, $3.06. Idaho tied with Oregon, but Oregon doesn’t have self-serve gas, requiring motorists to let an attendant pump their gas for them.
AAA said Idaho’s average price has been more than 20 cents higher than the national average gas price for the past five months. “Market factors can influence prices from region to region and even locally, but it’s difficult to comprehend what’s driving this year’s high pump prices in Idaho,” Carlson said. Click here to read AAA’s full statement.
Idaho’s gas prices are at least 20 cents per gallon above the national average, and they’ve been that way for most of the spring, the AAA says, mainly because Utah refineries aren’t producing enough to meet demand. AAA tells the Idaho Statesman prices likely will fall in the next month./Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise
Question: Will you drive anywhere for the holiday weekend, despite gas prices?
Here’s a news item from The Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The spokesman for AAA Idaho says the reason a gallon of gas in the state has been at least 20 cents higher than the national average for most of the spring is because refineries in Utah aren’t producing enough to meet demand in the two states. Dave Carlson says lawmakers in Utah should ask refineries why more isn’t being produced. AAA reports that the national average cost for a gallon of regular gasoline on Friday was $2.749. The cost in Idaho is $3.023, and in Utah $3.055. Carlson told the Idaho Statesman that Idaho is an isolated market and that’s part of the reason for the higher prices. He predicts gas prices will fall in the next 30 days.
Kathy Hedberg/Lewiston Tribune columnizes: “A person could be tempted to become skeptical about why gas prices jump up and down with such wide variations from one part of the country - or the state - to another. Last week we were told the reason gas prices in Idaho are up nearly 20 cents a gallon more than in the rest of the country is because of financial troubles at a Utah oil refinery. Some guy in Salt Lake City bounced a check and now we here in Idaho have to pay the price. I never realized the petroleum business was that fragile. But, then, I began to wonder the last time there was a big bump in price and we were told the oil company manager’s grandma had died and he shut down the plant to attend her funeral. Oil distribution, it seems, is like a virus. Somebody sneezes and everybody within hundreds of miles comes down with the flu. More here.
Question: If you were to make an educated guess, how do you think that gas prices REALLY are set in the various parts of the state, region, and country?