Gas prices nationwide have been rising every day for three weeks, and costs locally are following the trend, though they’re still cheaper than the average U.S. price.
For many months the cheapest North Carolina metro area at the gas pump, Charlotte, is now No. 2 to Fayetteville, where it’s $2.18 for a gallon of unleaded gas as of early Wednesday. In Charlotte, the average price is $2.19 a gallon, up from $2.13 a week ago and $2.05 a month ago, according to auto group AAA.
The statewide average price of gas is $2.21, up from $2.17 a week ago and $2.14 a month ago. Still, it’s more than $1.10 cheaper than it was a year ago. Nationally, the average price of a gallon of gas is $2.27, almost a quarter more expensive than it was three weeks ago.
Gas prices start to rise every February as refineries begin conducting maintenance, which limits fuel production. Crude oil prices have also gotten higher, meaning it costs more for refineries to produce gasoline, according to a report Tuesday from AAA. This week, the global price of Brent crude oil, for example, closed above $60 per barrel for the first time in 2015.
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Still, the auto group anticipates prices will remain below $3 nationally this year.
What’s more, severe winter weather, like the freezing temperatures and ice that blanketed the Charlotte area this week, could limit driving and demand for gas in the near term.
AAA reported that South Carolina’s average price is $2.04, up from $1.99 a week ago. Only three states – Utah, Montana and Idaho – have gas averaging under $2 a gallon. Over the past week, the only places where gas costs declined were Alaska, Hawaii and the District of Columbia.
Economists estimate that the plunge in gas prices has saved Americans about $750 over the past year.