Sharp rise in the number of Gem State visitors will likely drive fuel demand higher
BOISE – (August 15, 2017) – As locations along the August 21 eclipse “path of totality” prepare for a massive influx of visitors anxious to witness the event, increased fuel demand will likely apply upward pressure on gas prices in Idaho and other affected states, says AAA.
For the first time since 1918, a coast-to-coast solar eclipse will cross the United States, and Idaho is well-positioned to offer prime viewing opportunities statewide. As a result, Gem State emergency planners are preparing for more than 500,000 eclipse tourists from neighboring states. About a million more visitors are expected in Oregon.
“It’s been another strong summer for travel activity, with no immediate signs of letting up,” says Matthew Conde, public affairs director for AAA Idaho. “The eclipse and Labor Day travel could provide a one-two punch that keeps gas prices moving higher for the foreseeable future.”
AAA encourages Idahoans traveling or staying close to home to keep a full gas tank in the coming days to avoid the potential for higher prices and longer lines at the pump.
Today, the average price of regular unleaded in the Gem State is $2.65, which is twelve cents higher than a month ago and 21 cents higher than a year ago. Over the past week, Idaho prices have increased by about nine cents per gallon. In the Rockies region, gasoline inventories have almost reached the low for the year.
Nationwide pump prices are also on the rise. A gallon of gas currently costs $2.35, which is ten cents higher than a month ago and 23 cents higher than a year ago.
Since the beginning of August, crude oil prices have hovered near the 49 dollar mark. Today, crude oil started the day trading at $47.49 per barrel. OPEC and non-OPEC nations have committed to increased production cut compliance, and domestic oil inventories continue to drop, but new oil exploration is still expanding in the U.S. Last week, three oil rigs were added to the count, bringing the total to 768 – 372 rigs more than last year’s count at this time.
“There are conflicting signs in the marketplace right now,” Conde said. “When oil inventories go down, the number of active oil rigs often follows suit. Current conditions suggest that oil companies remain confident that American crude oil can be processed at a reasonable price point.”
AAA Oregon/Idaho is preparing for some 6,000 roadside assistance requests per day around the eclipse event. The main culprits will be depleted batteries, lockouts, and flat tires, but with the potential for severe gridlock on congested freeways and two-lane state highways, requests for fuel could also increase.
AAA offers some friendly advice to help eclipse viewers make the most of this unique opportunity:
- Expect delays. Two lane highways and even major interstate freeways will likely experience bumper-to-bumper traffic at times. Further, a single car accident could create traffic problems for hours. Make sure you build in enough time to reach a safe viewing area.
“Roadside assistance resources could be stretched thin in the days surrounding the eclipse,” Conde said. “AAA and other service providers will prioritize roadside assistance based on safety concerns, traffic flow and other factors in coordination with highway officials and law enforcement.”
- Stock up on supplies. Whether you’re traveling to witness the event or staying close to home, it’s a good idea to have plenty of food and water for people and pets. If you plan to hit the road, you should also bring an emergency kit complete with a flashlight, batteries, an emergency beacon or reflector, a cell phone charger, and basic first aid supplies.
- Plan ahead. Decrease your odds of a roadside mishap by checking fluid levels (especially coolant) and tire pressure. A trained professional can help. For a list of AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities, go to aaa.com/aar.
- View the eclipse safely. Avoid standing in the middle of a road or an emergency travel lane to view the eclipse, and don’t attempt to experience the phenomenon while driving. Legally park in a safe area, and while you’re driving, watch for other eclipse viewers that may unexpectedly block traffic.
“People are understandably excited to see the eclipse, but aggressive or distracted driving can make the day memorable for the wrong reasons,” Conde said. “Also, don’t take a chance on viewing the eclipse without proper eye protection.”
AAA reminds eventgoers that viewing conditions are always “weather permitting.” Check the local weather forecast to determine if travel plans need to be adjusted.
Here’s a sample of gas prices across the Gem State: American Falls, $2.67; Bellevue, $2.81; Boise, $2.68; Buhl, $2.63; Cascade, $2.80; Chubbuck, $2.61; Coeur D’Alene, $2.60; Dalton Gardens, $2.57; Eden, $2.90; Emmett, $2.76; Franklin, $2.56; Fruitland, $2.68; Gooding, $2.62; Heyburn, $2.61; Horseshoe Bend, $2.76; Idaho Falls, $2.60, Kellogg, $2.65; Lewiston, $2.63; Melba, $2.90; Moscow, $2.72; Mountain Home, $2.62; Nampa, $2.69; Orofino, $2.64; Parma, $2.70; Pocatello, $2.60; Rexburg, $2.56; Stanley, $3.18; Twin Falls, $2.62; Weiser, $2.66; Wendell, $2.59.