Gas prices lower across the state, country

A motorist fills up Thursday at the Phillips 66 station along Niles Avenue in St. Joseph. Gas prices have dropped across the U.S. and Michigan in the last week. (Don Campbell | HP Staff)

A motorist fills up Thursday at the Phillips 66 station along Niles Avenue in St. Joseph. Gas prices have dropped across the U.S. and Michigan in the last week. (Don Campbell | HP Staff)

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

Tim Donahue first noticed a difference in the price of gas Thursday morning when he passed a Citgo gas station on his way to work.

The St. Joseph resident said he decided to stop there to fill up after work in case the price rose the next day.

“Before today I didn’t notice it go below $2,” Donahue said. “I mean, I know its been going down for some time, but it’s unheard of to see it get that low.”

He’s not the only one who’s noticed prices at the pump have been decreasing over the last week.

According to GasBuddy, the state of Michigan was averaging $1.98 a gallon Thursday. The last time gas prices saw an increase for the state’s overall average was more than two weeks ago Nov. 3, when drivers were paying $2.43 a gallon.

The lowest gas prices in the state belongs to a few stations in Dearborn where gas is being sold for $1.65 a gallon. In Berrien County, the lowest price for gas on Thursday was found in Benton Harbor for $1.76.

Gas Buddy reports lows elsewhere, including $1.82 in Dowagiac and South Haven.

The last time Michigan drivers were able to pay for gasoline under $2 a gallon on a consistent basis was in January.

Donahue said he doesn’t suffer too much when gas prices increase as they do all too often because he gets nearly 30 miles to the gallon. As for how long the price will remain this low, Donahue is skeptical.

“I find it hard to believe it will stay this way with the holidays coming up,” he said. “I’ll believe it when I see it.”

Pump prices are on their way to lows that haven’t been seen in years. According to the American Automobile Association – a nonprofit network of auto clubs that track gas prices – gas prices have been falling every day for more than a week, and are expected to come down even more through Christmas.

More than one fifth of states have averages below $2 per gallon, with some of the lowest prices being in South Carolina ($1.91) and Alabama ($1.92). Some of the most expensive markets are out west, in California ($2.80) and Nevada ($2.67), according to AAA.

Benton Harbor resident Minnie Williams, who drives a Toyota Corolla, said she hopes the recent trend continues into 2016.

Williams said she might be able to splurge on Christmas presents if gas prices continue to drop in December.

“I do a lot of driving, especially around the holidays,” Williams said. “The majority of my family is in Detroit, so it can be tough. That’s two hours there and another two hours back.”

Byron Curtis of Coloma said he is not optimistic prices will stay this low – despite what he has been hearing online.

Curtis said he uses a trick for getting every cent out of his car during times like these when gas prices continuously decrease.

“I always hate it when I fill up and the next day it gets cheaper, or I say to myself, ‘I’ll wait another day when it’s a little bit cheaper,’ and the price goes up,” he said. “When I see the price of gas go down each day, I try to add a few dollars of gas here and there. That way I don’t miss out on days when gas is cheaper.”

Contact Tony Wittkowski at twittkowski@TheHP.com or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter: @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Nov. 20, 2015)

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