N. Idaho Gas Goes Under $3

By Tom Bacon

Drivers zipping by posted gasoline prices in Coeur d'Alene may have to take second look at numbers they haven't seen in a long time. At several stations, the first digit of the per-gallon cost is now a '2' rather than a '3'.

Prices for self service regular gasoline have been slowly dropping for the past month or so, but even when they approached $3 and small change, few drivers expected to see the cost roll back to less than $3 a gallon. Yet several outlets in the Coeur d'Alene area are posting prices now of just under $3: $2.95 to $2.99.

The under-$3-a-gallon may be temporary, may be just an aberration. Moving to the west from Coeur d'Alene, average per-gallon prices are still $3 and change, and in Spokane, the average jumps to $3.30 or $3.34 a gallon. Still, average prices in the Spokane area are less than a year ago when the per-gallon price was in the $3.64 range.

Oddly, some prices west of the Cascades, where prices are normally higher than in eastern Washington, are now lower, less than $3 a gallon in a few areas along the I-5 corridor.

Nationally, a gallon of gasoline right now costs $3.19, the lowest level since early in 2011. The question is, will prices stay low or even drop further. Some experts believe they will, because the price of crude oil is well under a hundred dollars a barrel, crude stocks are high, and more production - especially in the U-S and Canada - is coming on line.

Additionally, Americans are buying slightly more fuel-efficient vehicles, and there's a trend among young people to drive less. Coeur d'Alene drivers probably don't think too much about the dynamics of fuel pricing. They just grin when they pull into a station where the first digit of the displayed cost is a '2' rather than a '3'.
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