By Johnny Jackson
Travel industry officials are optimistic about declining gas prices in the region.
The average price for regular unleaded gas in Georgia has decreased 5 cents over the past week, according to AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report.
The price has dropped by about a penny per day over the week in Georgia, from $2.55 on June 22 to $2.50 on Monday. Metro Atlanta saw a similar decline, from $2.56 to $2.51, over the same period.
"Last year at this time, we saw the national average price of gasoline increase from $4.07 to $4.10 on July 4," said Gregg Laskoski, spokesman for AAA Auto Club South. However, this year, the $2.63 per gallon national average dropped 1cent, from June 28 to 29, heading into the July 4 weekend.
AAA also reported that diesel-fuel prices are down more than $2 per gallon from a year ago. The national average for diesel fuel is $2.63 per gallon, compared to $4.76 this time in 2008.
Laskoski said he believes the lower prices are due to less demand in industry and commerce.
"It is more of a reflection of the economy - the business side versus the consumer side," he said.
Crude oil closed on Friday at $69.16 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, he said. The price of crude continues to decline from the June 12 price of $72.04 per barrel price, which has been the highest week-ending price so far this year.
World crude oil prices are nearly half what they were a year ago, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The administration reported the per barrel crude oil price at $129.78 on June 20, 2008, compared to $69.25 on June 19, this year.
"Fortunately, it's a much different story this year," Laskoski added. "All the indicators reflect that the peak price is behind us, and we can now expect retail gasoline prices to edge downward, even as we approach the Independence Day weekend."