It’s that time of year when Atlanta starts to rev up and gas prices often follow suit.
And while winter isn’t yet over, the price of regular gas is already higher than any March since 2014. A gallon of regular in metro Atlanta – currently the highest-priced gas in the state – averaged $2.42 a gallon on Tuesday.
That means residents are paying about $3 more for a full tank than a year ago, according to AAA.
Prices have edged down a bit since the end of January, but don’t expect that trend to continue, said Mark Jenkins, an AAA spokesman. “Gas prices are still forecast to rise 20 cents in the coming months, as demand climbs and refineries switch to summer blend gasoline.”
As the weather warms into spring, driving – and demand for gasoline – typically increase. Meanwhile, refineries often take time for maintenance and then shift to different blends of gasoline that take longer to produce.
The combination of events generally push gasoline prices higher.
Another way to look at it: the average metro Atlanta driver will spend $367 on gasoline this spring and that is about $36 more than a year ago, according to GasBuddy.
Still, prices at the pump are well below all-time peaks.
Georgia prices now are averaging about 11 percent higher than a year ago. Compared to two years ago, prices have climbed 29 percent.
But it’s all perspective: prices are 28 percent lower than they were in March of 2014.
The gyrations of the market mean that it often pays to shop around a little, said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy. “Motorists who don’t pay attention to the price spread are going to pay over $400 for gas this spring.”
In metro Atlanta, the highest priced gas was in the north of Atlanta, where an Exxon station was selling it for $3.09 a gallon, according to GasBuddy. Meanwhile, another Exxon – this one in Lawrenceville – was tied for the lowest price, with gas for $2.10 a gallon.
Nationally, the highest price was in Amboy, Calif. – $4.99 a gallon, GasBuddy said. That compares to a station San Angelo, Texas selling gas for $1.92 a gallon.
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Atlanta’s average gas price for a gallon, March
Cheapest gas in America, per gallon
South Carolina: $2.24
Costliest gas in America, per gallon