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Gas prices remain at August levels

By Johnny Jackson

jjackson@henryherald.com

McDonough resident, Brian Wilson, said he was stunned to see that gas prices are still at levels seen during the summer, and higher than they were a year ago.

"I think that's ridiculous," Wilson said. "Gas prices have been high for too many years already."

AAA Auto Club South reported Monday that gas prices in metro Atlanta remained at an average $2.50 per gallon for regular unleaded following the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. The average prices are roughly the same as those seen back in August.

Wilson, the co-owner of a local landscaping company, said his business requires him to travel throughout metro Atlanta during the week.

He said the almost-daily commute requires that he fill his truck up twice a week which, with the higher gas prices, places a strain on his business and eventually impacts his customers.

"I wish the gas prices would go down," Wilson said. "It's costing my business a lot of money, and in turn, it's costing my clients a lot of money."

But area residents like Wilson, and those in states throughout much of the Southeast, are experiencing lower retail gas prices than residents in other parts of the nation, according to AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report.

The report said the nationwide average price for regular, unleaded gas was $2.62 per gallon on Monday. The average gas price in Georgia remained at $2.50 per gallon of regular unleaded gas over the weekend, slightly higher than the $2.49 average from a week ago.

The AAA report reveals, however, that gas prices continue to be much higher than this time a year ago.

According to the report, gas prices were 77 cents higher Monday than Nov. 30, 2008. In 2008, Georgians paid an average of $1.73 for a gallon of regular, unleaded gas.

Economic uncertainties have kept gas prices higher than once anticipated for this fall, according to Gregg Laskoski, spokesman for AAA Auto Club South.

Laskoski said concerns that Dubai banks might default on $60 billion in debt led to the Dow Jones industrial average giving up 155 points Friday.

"The Dow fell as much as 233 points during a broad retreat and the dollar gained against most other major currencies while commodities tumbled," Laskoski said. "If the Dubai debt problem worsens, we should probably expect crude oil prices to reflect that, and a decline in crude could bring a more pronounced decline in retail gasoline prices during December."

Looking ahead, he said, investors are expected to either shrug off the financial crisis in the Middle East or seek protection in more conservative investments.

The price of crude oil on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) closed Friday at $76.05 per barrel following the last full week of November.

In October, the NYMEX reported crude oil prices topping $80 per barrel with a year's high of $80.50 on Oct. 23.

Economists with the Energy Information Administration anticipate crude oil will average about $77 per barrel through March, and expect even higher gas prices for 2010.

The administration's recently updated short-term energy outlook forecasts an increase in the annual average retail gas price from $2.36 per gallon this year to $2.81 in 2010, with prices near $3 per gallon during next year's driving season.