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Thanksgiving travelers enjoy lower prices at the gas pump

Kevin Castle • Nov 24, 2008 at 12:00 AM

Tri-Cities residents traveling this Thanksgiving can fill up their cars for much less than they did last year, according to the latest AAA Fuel Gauge Report.

The auto club estimates that 41 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more over the holiday period, a decrease of 400,000 from 2007 and the lowest projection since 2002. But those deciding to travel will pay a little over $28 to fill an average 15-gallon tank.

Compared with last year, that’s a savings of $15.

Gas prices in the region have fallen for the 10th consecutive week.

The report for the week ending Nov. 14 shows an almost 7 cent decrease in Kingsport in the last week, with the average price taken from 24 stations coming in at $1.86 per gallon. At some gas stations in Kingsport regular unleaded was selling as low as $1.76 a gallon on Friday.

Bristol’s 20 stations saw the biggest price decline during the period with a 15 cent drop, bringing the average price to $1.87 per gallon.

The average price in Johnson City was the highest in the region at $1.92 per gallon, even with an 11 cent plunge in price in the past seven days.

The average price for all of East Tennessee continues to stay at levels not seen since late January 2007, and the current national retail average for regular unleaded — $2.04 per gallon — is the lowest since March 2005, according to AAA.

AAA public affairs specialist Don Lindsey said falling gas prices mirror the sagging global economy, which continues to force oil prices down.

“How long this will continue and how low prices will go remain only speculation, but whenever the economy recovers — a welcome event — we should expect gasoline prices to come back up,” said Lindsey.

Demand for gasoline continues to help influence prices due to more people cutting back on their driving, but the drops have also translated into reduced prices for heating oil and natural gas, bringing a little financial relief to struggling families this winter.

According to the Associated Press, home heating oil prices fell 9.6 percent, natural gas intended for home use fell by 5.9 percent, and liquefied petroleum gas dropped by 27.6 percent, the biggest decline in more than three decades.

The Labor Department reported last week that wholesale energy prices dropped by 12.8 percent in October, the biggest one-month fall since 1986. All types of fuel declined, with gasoline falling by a record 24.9 percent, surpassing the old mark set in 1986.

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