Just as many Southern Nevada families hit the road to take advantage of spring break vacation this week gas prices are soaring.
In the last week, gasoline prices jumped 18 cents a gallon in Nevada, pushing the statewide average for regular unleaded fuel to $3.26 per gallon. With the increase, Nevada has the fourth most expensive gas prices in the country, well above the $2.83 national average, according to AAA.
Since April 1, the average price of gas in Nevada has increased 28 cents a gallon.
The surge in gas prices is largely tied to two factors: increased demand and spring maintenance at California refineries, according to Sergio Avila, AAA spokesman.
“With the rising gas prices in California, we unfortunately see the residuals because we get most of our gas here in Las Vegas from the California area,” Avila said. “So, that’s part of it, but there’s also been some routine and some not so routine maintenance happening in refineries in California. That has dwindled down the supply, to where we have a lot more demand.”
Gas prices topped the $4 per gallon mark in California this week, following a 20 cent a gallon week-over-week increase, AAA data showed.
Increased travel has also help drive prices up, as summer-like travel conditions have been experienced on roads in the region, Avila said.
With the sharp increase in prices this month, some valley residents are changing their driving habits in an attempt to save money.
Marlene Drozd, a resident in the southeast valley, near Pebble Road and Maryland Parkway, said she plans her trips economically now, not making as many trips as usual.
“I try to save wherever I can, I try to do all my trips in one shot,” Drozd said. “I don’t say ‘Hey I’ve got to go here and get in the car and go,’ I don’t do that anymore because of gas prices. I’ve curtailed my driving because of it.”
A retiree with a part-time job, Drozd also said she has had to alter her summer travel plans.
“I was going to go visit some people that I know in Scottsdale, Arizona, but now, I’m not going to do that.”
The good news for Clark County motorists is the average price of $3.24 a gallon isn’t the most expensive in Nevada. Mineral ($3.58 a gallon), Washoe ($3.53) and Pershing ($3.44) counties have the highest gas prices statewide.
But with the summer travel period slated to begin at the end of May when school lets out for the summer, gas prices in Las Vegas are expected to continue an upward trend, Avila said.
“As demand increases and people start heading out for summer driving, for the foreseeable future yes, prices will be increasing,” he said. “They’ll always come down, but for the foreseeable future it looks like that’s (increased prices) where we’re headed.”
The record high for average gas prices in Nevada was $4.27 seen in June 2008, but Avila said the Silver State is not in danger of surpassing $4 per gallon gas, as occurred in neighboring California this week.
“At the moment I don’t see that being an issue, of $4 gas here in Nevada,” he said.