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Gas prices falling in Napa County

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Gas prices dropping in Napa County

After reaching a peak north of $6 per gallon in June, gasoline prices have ebbed across Napa County, with a gallon of regular fuel dipping as low as $5.07 on Monday at the 7-Eleven on Devlin Road in south Napa.

What once appeared a ceiling on Napa County gasoline prices may become a floor in the future — a cost of $5 per gallon.

With local pump prices down by more than a dollar since hitting a historic peak in June, service stations in the Napa Valley have edged away from $6-plus gallons over the summer. And as of Monday afternoon, at least one local station had moved its prices back below the $5 level — the Safeway in American Canyon, which was offering regular unleaded for $4.95 a gallon to drivers paying cash, according to the GasBuddy website.

Other comparatively cheap gallons could be found at the 7-Eleven on Devlin Road near the Napa County Airport, which sold 87-octane fuel for $5.07 in cash; Valley Gasoline on Monticello Road, which charged $5.39; and two Speedway stations on Trancas Street and Lincoln Avenue, which also offered regular fuel for $5.39.

Overall, regular gas averaged $5.61 a gallon Monday in Napa County, a drop of 22 cents in a week, according to AAA’s gas price tracker. By comparison, the local average reached its all-time high of $6.63 on June 9.

Napa Valley motorists, however, continue to pay some of the highest pump prices nationally. Local costs remain above California’s statewide mark of $5.44 on Monday, and are more than $1.50 over the U.S. average.

Despite the steady fall-off in gas prices during the summer, fuel costs remain far above the levels seen before the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February sent world oil markets into turmoil and supercharged already rising pump prices. As such, fewer drivers refueled last week, indicating that Americans continue to economize by driving fewer miles and combining errands, AAA said in a news release Monday.

Between less driving and falling crude-oil costs amid worries about an economic slowdown, the national per-gallon average cost fell Monday to $4.05 — down 67 cents in a month and 87 cents from a year earlier — and could slip under $4 later in the week, according to AAA spokesperson Andrew Gross.

Gasoline demand last week was 8.54 million barrels per day, according to the Energy Information Administration. That rate is 1.24 million barrels lower than at the same time in 2021, and is close to the depressed demand seen in July 2020 when COVID-19 restrictions severely crimped commuting and travel.

“If gas demand remains low and the supply continues to increase alongside falling oil prices, drivers will likely continue to see pump prices drop,” said Gross.

Nationwide fuel prices have fallen for 53 consecutive days, according to AAA.

Severin Borenstein, an energy economist at UC Berkeley, said that lower prices have so far been available mainly at at “off-brand stations,” though it is still too early to say how long the downward trend will continue. The biggest factor will be crude oil prices, which were below $100 per barrel on Sunday.

“Given that most of this drop is being driven by crude oil prices, it is very hard to predict if it will continue all the way into September,” Borenstein said.

After the Ukraine war began Feb. 24, oil surpassed $100 per barrel, causing the nation's average price for a gallon of regular unleaded fuel to peak at $5.02 on June 14, according to AAA.

In June, California lawmakers announced they would investigate oil companies and why the Golden State's fuel prices are higher than in other states.

In recent weeks, experts say, prices have dipped in response to lower demand that has resulted from the high fuel costs, as well as concerns of a possible recession.

Over the weekend, Patrick De Haan, GasBuddy's head of petroleum analysis, emphasized the correlation between low gas prices and a weak economy.

"Everyone's clamoring for #gasprices they paid at the height of the pandemic," he tweeted on Sunday. "You want your $1.86 or whatever price? Go back in time to when the economy was in the can, millions were let go from their jobs, the stock market crashed, and when there wasn't an answer yet to COVID."

Information from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat was used in this report.

At first, electric vehicles were only available for those who could live with short-range econoboxes. Then came expensive luxury cars, and a few pickup trucks and delivery vans. Now they're heading into the heart of the U.S. auto market -- the compact SUV. And many of the new entries being sold or on the way have the range, price and features to stack up with their gas-powered competitors. Some are proving quite popular. Ford's $45,000-plus Mustang Mach-E is sold out for the model year. General Motors' Chevrolet brand introduced an electric version of the Blazer on Monday night, also starting around $45,000 including shipping. Coming next year is an electric Chevy Equinox and a number of others. "The intention and where we're pricing this product is to certainly make it more available for more mainstream buyers," Steve Majoros, Chevrolet marketing director, said of the Blazer EV. All can get about 300 miles per charge and are aimed at the small SUV segment, the largest part of the U.S. market with about 20% of new-vehicle sales.

You can reach Howard Yune at 530-763-2266 or hyune@napanews.com

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City Editor and Public Safety Reporter

Howard Yune became the Register's city editor in September 2022. He has been a staff reporter and photographer since 2011, and previously wrote for the Marysville Appeal-Democrat, Anaheim Bulletin and Coos Bay (Oregon) World.

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