(AP) – Gasoline prices have started their annual spring climb, but they’re expected to stay below the level of recent years.
Auto club AAA says the national average price for a gallon of regular has risen for eight straight days – the first time that’s happened since last May. Today’s average of about $1.79 is 54 cents cheaper than at this time last year.
AAA reports the average price of a gallon of regular unleaded in the Peoria-Pekin area Wednesday was $1.69, down 61 cents from one year ago.
Forecasters say prices should rise at least 30 cents or more by June. Demand will rise as people drive more, and supplies will tighten when refiners switch to more expensive summer fuel blends.
The U.S. Energy Department predicts the national average for a gallon of regular gasoline will peak at $2.08 this summer. Tom Kloza, an energy analyst with the Oil Price Information Service, says the peak will be between $2.10 and $2.50 a gallon.
Either forecast would leave prices well below recent years. From 2011 to 2014, the national average on June 1 topped $3.60 and some places saw gas over $4. The Peoria-Pekin area’s record average of $4.22 was recorded May 5, 2011, according to AAA.
Gas is cheaper because of a glut of crude oil. Even with a 30 percent rally since Jan. 20, benchmark U.S. crude Tuesday closed down 68 percent from its peak in June of 2014.