Lower temperatures mean lower gasoline prices at Valley pumps.
Between October and March, when temperatures drop, motorists can expect to pay lower gas prices than they do during the summer,” said Linda Gorman, AAA Arizona public affairs manager.
The main reason: Clean Air Act regulations aimed at reducing air pollution are less demanding in winter months in the Valley.
As a result, refineries that supply gasoline are not required to produce a cleaner — and higher priced — grade of fuel than they do in summer. The more relaxed rules begin Monday.
“The stricter air requirements during the hot, summer months raise the price of fuel in the Valley,” Gorman said.
“Traditionally, the price drops as temperatures cool. It happens when refineries continue manufacturing the easier-to-produce, less expensive winter blends.”
Besides the temperature-induced lower gas prices, another factor that is expected to lower pump prices is less demand during winter months as drivers reduce their highway traveling, Gorman said.
“Last August, Arizona had the lowest fuel prices in the nation,” said Gorman. “Our prices could be better, but they could also be worse (when compared with) other states. It’s the old story of supply-and-demand.”
East Valley drivers last August paid $2.51 per gallon, but prices have slowly climbed ever since.
The average price of regular unleaded gasoline Thursday in Arizona was $2.69, or one cent higher than last week. Regular gasoline in the East Valley was $2.64, up nearly one cent from last week. Scottsdale drivers paid $2.73 a gallon, a 3-cent increase from the previous week.
Nationally, drivers are paying an average of $2.76 a gallon.
Gorman said another factor that is helping to push oil — and gasoline — prices lower in the Valley are current weather forecasts which show no imminent storm threats to energy production in the Gulf of Mexico.
Valley gas prices hit a record high of $3.13 a gallon in September 2005 after Hurricane Katrina.
Crude oil, meanwhile, is currently trading at $83.45 per barrel — 45 cents shy of the all-time high — and inventories are sitting 4 percent below last year’s levels, she said.