AAA: South Carolina gasoline cheapest in the nation

CHARLOTTE, NC (WIS) - ­ For the first time in 2010, the average price for a gallon of gasoline in South Carolina is cheaper than last year, according to AAA Carolinas. The state's average gas price is the lowest in the United States.

The average price Wednesday was $2.474 per gallon, compared to $2.477 a year ago. The last time South Carolina paid less for gasoline than the prior year was in October 2009.

A gallon of regular unleaded gasoline has averaged 70 cents more than last year over the first 165 days of 2010. The current financial crisis in Europe and subsequent strength of the dollar has helped push crude oil prices downward, which also lowers gasoline prices at the pump.

Only Charleston gasoline prices are higher than last year at this time by 5.3 cents. In other major cities, prices are lower:

  • Columbia (-1.3 cents)
  • Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson (-2.5 cents)
  • Myrtle Beach (-5.7 cents)

"Unlike several major cities in North Carolina, prices have dipped significantly in South Carolina, reflecting a slower than usual ramping up of summer driving demand," said David E. Parsons, President and CEO of AAA Carolinas. "Statewide, prices have been falling since May 6 this year when the European financial crisis began devaluing the Euro and strengthening the dollar."

North Carolina's average price Wednesday is $2.606. A year ago it was $2.615. North Carolina's state tax is 16 cents more per gallon than South Carolina's.

"If the situation remains as is, we definitely will not see $3 a gallon this summer, ­ especially in South Carolina - although it is uncertain if prices will continue to decline," said Parsons. "The prediction of an active hurricane season is one worry. A heavier than usual summer driving season kicking in for July and August is another."

Current inventory, a muted beginning to the summer driving season and the possibility of further economic troubles involving Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain, could continue to adversely affect the Euro and keep the dollar strong.

"Of all the factors affecting gas prices, the Deepwater Horizon spill and [President Barack] Obama's corresponding six-month moratorium on off-shore drilling are not among them," said Parsons.

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