A long line of cars circled a Merced gas station Thursday as residents took advantage of filling up at less than $3 a gallon.
The downward trend of gas prices started in late 2013, but experts say the price at the pump will continue to drop. And Mercedians are definitely taking notice.
“I’m so happy it’s going down,” said Arny Plascencia as he filled up his SUV on Thursday. “Now for $30, I get more than half a tank. You have extra money for food or something else you need.”
Plascencia, 44, stopped by the Arco ampm on McSwain Road to fill up his tank for $2.99 per gallon. According to GasBuddy.com, that gas station and Costco are the only two places in town offering gasoline for less than $3 per gallon.
Owner Bobby Kullar said he lowered his prices around midnight Thursday in response to a decrease in barrel prices.
“It hasn’t been $2.99 for at least a decade,” Kullar said. “We will keep it this low for a couple more weeks, depending on the barrel prices.”
The average price of regular gasoline in Merced was $3.32 per gallon Thursday, which is down about 10 cents from last week and 40 cents from last month, AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge report said. The price is down 36 cents from last year, according to the report.
In the state, Thursday’s average of $3.34 for a gallon of regular gas dropped 35 cents from last month and 37 cents from last year.
Cynthia Harris, senior spokeswoman for AAA Northern California, said the drop in prices is attributed to a growth in fuel production in the United States, less consumption from consumers and a switch to the “winter blend” of gas in October, which is cheaper to produce.
“There is less consumption on the part of consumers, and this is a trend we’ve seen the last couple of years,” Harris said. “Consumers have found a way to shop around to find cheaper gas, and they are getting rid of gas-guzzling cars for something more efficient.”
There haven’t been any major closures of local or regional refineries, Harris added, which also contributes to keeping the prices low.
The relief at the gas pump allows Gilbert Ornelas, who drives to Modesto every day for work, to fill up less often.
“The holidays are coming up and we can use that money,” the 58-year-old said. “This is finally giving us some relief – as long as they don’t go up and we’re back to square one.”