Hurricane Harvey is causing prices at the pump to spike across the nation, with Georgia reporting a 12-cent increase over last week’s reported average.
Experts from AAA anticipated such a surge in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. The category 4 hurricane shut down or limited production from refineries and pipelines across the Gulf Coast, including Colonial Pipeline which serves Georgia.
As a result, AAA is forecasting a 5- to 15-cent price increase nationwide due to the storm, according to AAA AutoClub Group spokesperson Josh Carrasco said.
“At this point, we’re at a wait-and-see situation to see how much damage is done to those refineries in the Gulf Coast area,” Carrasco said. “And then we’ll have more clarity down the road.”
On Tuesday, Colonial Pipeline reported the system was operating at a reduced capacity due to limited supply out of Houston and storm-related damage at facilities.
Georgia is also served by Kinder Morgan’s Plantation Pipe Line system. According to a company spokesperson, there are no operational issues on the pipeline which originates in Louisiana and is capable of delivering approximately 700,000 barrels per day through its network.
AAA's average gas price for Georgia on Wednesday was $2.33, compared to $2.29 yesterday and $2.21 the week before. Yet, Carrasco said there’s no need to grab spare gas tanks and rush to fill up
“At this point, don’t hit the panic button,” Carrasco said. “We’re not worried about there being no gasoline at your local gas station.”
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal announced plans Wednesday to further safeguard the state’s fuel supply.
“Earlier this week I applied for, and received, a fuel waiver from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This waiver will help ensure our fuel supply remains uninterrupted. Further, I’ve issued an executive order waiving rules and regulations for truck drivers transporting motor fuel in Georgia, as well as for those carrying hurricane relief supplies,” the governor said in a press release.
Under the governor’s order, the federal rules limiting the number of hours commercial truck drivers can drive will be temporarily suspended.
“While recovery efforts continue and until normal operations resume, I urge the public to maintain regular consumption levels and travel schedules,” the governor said.
According to Georgia Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit, high prices for gasoline do not equate to price gouging. Georgia law requires the governor to issue a state of emergency following a national disaster before issuing a price freeze on products like gasoline.
Meanwhile, AAA is expecting price increases to be temporary.
“This storm is going to be a short-term spike in overall gas prices this year,” Carrasco said. “As we get to the end of September…we’ll actually see gas prices decline again.”
With the Labor Day travel rush around the corner, Carrasco still advises filling up sooner rather than later for those driving this holiday weekend.
“Today’s probably going to be the cheapest day to buy gas if you want to save yourself a few cents,” Carrasco said, adding drivers should anticipate seeing the highest Labor Day gas prices since 2014.