by Frederick H. Lowe
As families prepare to make those long drives to celebrate Christmas with their parents and grandparents, they will have another reason to be happy, according to Triple AAA.
That’s because a gallon of regular gas is selling at an average of $1.998, the lowest price since 2000.
Lower crude oil prices are playing Santa Claus this year for motorists.
U.S. average gas prices are 79 cents per gallon less than the 2015 peak, and the national average has moved lower for 33 of the past 38 days for a total savings of 21 cents per gallon. The average price at the pump is down two cents on the week, 16 cents on the month and 54 cents on the year.
Retail averages are below $2 per gallon in 26 states. South Carolina ($1.79), Missouri ($1.79) and Kansas ($1.79) are the nation’s least expensive markets, and drivers in these states are saving nearly $1 per gallon compared to the state with the highest average, which is Hawaii ($2.75).
California ($2.65), Nevada ($2.49), Washington ($2.42) and Alaska ($2.39) round out the top five most expensive markets for gasoline.
The prices reflect lower seasonal demand, the stronger dollar, weakening of the global economy and an oversupply of oil and gas. Gas prices are usually less expensive in the winter due to lower seasonal demand and the switch to winter-grade gasoline, which costs 25% less to produce.
Prices are expected to fall even more during the next couple of weeks, although they could rise about 50 cents by the end of winter as refineries conduct maintenance operations to prepare for the winter driving season.