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Idaho gas prices keep climbing

| March 2, 2021 1:00 AM

COEUR d'ALENE — In a delayed reaction from the effects of winter storms across the Midwest and Gulf Coast, surging gas prices hit Idaho hard this week, according to AAA Idaho. The state average is up 10 cents for a gallon of regular, and drivers in some areas are paying 12 to 18 cents more than a week ago.

“Last week, Idahoans were able to avoid the double-digit increase that drivers faced in two-thirds of the states, but no longer,” says AAA Idaho spokesman Matthew Conde. “Whether you live in the Treasure Valley (+10 cents), the Coeur d’Alene area (+12 cents), Twin Falls (+12 cents), Idaho Falls (+12 cents), Lewiston (+16 cents), Pocatello (+17 cents) or Franklin (+18 cents), you’re definitely feeling the sting if you fill up today.”

Kootenai County prices range from the high $2.30s to mid $2.50s for a gallon of regular unleaded.

For the first time in nearly a year, Idaho pump prices are now more expensive than they were a year ago. Today, regular gas costs an average of $2.60 per gallon in the Gem State, which is 15 cents more than a month ago and seven cents more than a year ago. The U.S. average is $2.72, which is 30 cents more than a month ago and 28 cents more than a year ago. Idaho prices are still 12 cents cheaper than the national average.

AAA says that rising crude oil prices and abnormally low refinery production have pushed prices higher across the country. According to the Energy Information Administration, refinery utilization dropped from 83 percent to 68 percent following winter storms that took 26 U.S. refineries offline.

“AAA forecasts that the national average will hit $2.80 per gallon sometime in March. Idaho prices are sometimes 20 to 30 cents higher than the national average, so we could hit the $3 mark at some point, but time will tell,” Conde said. “With this kind of incredible volatility, there’s a chance that March could bring some of the highest pump prices of 2021.”