ATLANTA — Gas prices are on a downward trend, with bigger drops expected to come as Georgia switches from a summer to a winter blend of gasoline.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, a gas blend is formulated differently for each season and location where it is sold.
Sept.15 marks the day that most refineries make the change from the more expensive summer blend of gasoline to the cheaper winter blend, the administration said in an earlier release.
Claudia Lawson spends $50 on a fill-up at the Quick Trip on Sidney Marcus Boulevard. It’s not what she expected when she moved to metro Atlanta from an area of Virginia where gas is 16 cents a gallon cheaper than here.
“I usually keep my tank full,” Lawson said. “I had no gas in my car today, so I had to fill up. It’s like, if I have to, I will; if I don’t, I won’t.”
The combination of Gov. Brian Kemp’s gas tax suspension and the switch to winter blend could save her some money the next time she visits the pump.
Warm weather causes gasoline to evaporate faster, leading to an increase in pollutants. To combat that, refineries lower the amount of butane that goes into each gallon of gas, making the mixture less volatile. It also causes the price to go up, the federal administration said.
On Friday, refineries can add more butane to the mix, and the price at the pump could drop.
“There’s not a hard and fast rule for how much cheaper winter gasoline is because it can vary based on the supply of that specific blend,” Patrick DeHaan with GasBuddy said. “Traditionally, going from a summer gasoline to a winter gasoline, you’ll notice a 5 to 15 cent a gallon drop.”
DeHaan said it would take some time for the savings to reach the pump, and the same goes for the Georgia governor's gas tax suspension. That's because right now, most stations are selling gasoline they bought when it was still taxed.
“A station is going to be a little apprehensive about lowering their price until they sell through that taxed gasoline, so it’s probably going to take a week for prices to really start going down significantly,” DeHaan said. “By the end of the month, we could see prices that are 25 to 30 cents a gallon lower.”
DeHaan said traditionally, prices fall through the fall and winter due to many factors, including a drop in demand.