The past 12 months have seen fluctuating highs and lows for gasoline prices across the country.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Midwest and national patterns show the highs peaked in April and September, almost tipping $4 per gallon. This was a result of high oil prices and supply shortages caused by refinery and pipeline problems, as well as disrupted supplies due to Hurricane Isaac, according to the Associated Press.
Low points were in January, July and December, as supplies were replenished and refiners switched to cheaper blends of fuel. The lowest prices were found in the lower Midwest and South. On Monday, the average price was $3.25 per gallon nationally and $3.14 in the Midwest, both down from a week ago. Gas was as low as $2.99 per gallon in McPherson this week.
Gasoline averaged $3.63 a gallon this year, 10 cents above the record set a year ago, according to the Associated Press.
These fluctuations affected both personal and commercial business, both nationally and locally.
Phyllis Severs of Jim's Plumbing and Heating in McPherson said they have had to raise their hourly rate at least $10 an hour in the last few years to compensate. Their four vans use a lot of gasoline traveling to various assignments.
“Everything has to keep getting higher when the gas prices are high,” she said. “There’s a lot of expenses.”
Kay and Virgil Dechant of McPherson operate a freight business and often transports a variety of products to and from California. They are compensated for diesel, but the quick increases often take a while to be recognized and adjusted, especially as prices change by state. Virgil estimates his profit margins to go down by about one-third when gas prices spike.
“That was dreadful when they went up,” Kay said.
Some businesses, however, have kept running steady.
Jeanne Swick of McPherson Floral said charges have remained the same. She has not seen a change in prices for deliveries to the store, either.
“We sure do appreciate the lower gas prices, but you go where your orders call for you,” Swick said. “Nothing has changed, so business as usual, delivery as usual.”
Chris Ruder, associate superintendent of McPherson USD 418, said the district prepares for high gas prices in advance, and $4 a gallon is established in the budget.
“We are thrilled every time prices are low,” he said. “But we already try to overestimate to make sure our costs are covered.”
Although the district tries to streamline the use of busses, suburbans, vans and cars based on how many individuals need transport, it’s difficult to make a lot of changes.
“We try to be as conservative as possible, but our routes don’t change, nor does our activities schedule. We’re pretty set in regard to the number of miles per year.”
If no events disrupt oil supplies, nationwide gasoline prices are expected to stay below $4 per gallon in 2013 and average $3.43 per gallon, according to the Associated Press.