Ahead of Hurricane Ian’s landfall, gas prices declined 4 cents per gallon last week, and officials from AAA — The Auto Club Group are not expecting that the storm will disrupt supply or kick up a spike in prices.
Nevertheless, the state activated its price-gouging hotline Saturday.
But another storm might keep prices from rising. Gas and oil future prices plunged 7% over concerns that the Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike could trigger an economic recession, AAA officials said.
“There’s actually downward pressure on pump prices, despite the forecast that a hurricane would approach Florida this week,” said Mark Jenkins, AAA spokesman. “Since Tropical Storm Ian is not projected to impact the refineries in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, it’s unlikely that the storm itself or the resulting demand, would cause pump prices to spike.”
With motorists gassing up to evacuate, or filling up gas cans in anticipation of the need to run generators, there might be temporary fuel outages at gas stations. But AAA officials said there’s no need to hoard gas. The storm is not going to touch the gas refineries in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi that primarily supply Florida’s fuel, so fuel deliveries will continue until the weather conditions make it unsafe.
“The bottom line is, don’t panic about gasoline supplies, just take what you need,” Jenkins said. “The state makes it a priority to keep gasoline shipments going as long as it’s safe to do so. Once the storm passes, shipments will resume as soon as possible.”
During a storm-related emergency, gas stations are prohibited from significantly raising the prices beyond what it’s been for the last 30 days, AAA officials say. But a rise in price doesn’t necessarily mean illegal gas price gouging is happening. If the cost of getting the gas goes up, gas stations are allowed to charge more.
Anyone who suspects that a retailer is taking advantage of the emergency with higher prices is encouraged to learn more about price gouging and report it if signs point to foul play. The state Attorney General has a portal here.
Meanwhile, the weekly report from AAA Florida showed with gas prices averaging $3.38 per gallon, the state’s motorists last week were paying the lowest daily average since January. Monday, the state average gas prices dropped a penny, to $3.37.
Florida’s best gas deals Monday were found in Pensacola and Crestview-Fort Walton Beach where drivers saw a gallon averaging $3.15. Panama City is at $3.25; Jacksonville, $3.31; Titusville, $3.30; and Orlando at $3.35.
The state’s most expensive gasoline in nearby counties along the Big Bend, with Apalachicola market showing the highest prices at $3.68 per gallon. Monroe County is at $3.64 per gallon. The West Palm Beach-Boca Raton market, usually the state’s most expensive market, is averaging $3.57 per gallon, according to Monday’s report.