Gas prices have jumped up for the third week in a row, leading many of people wondering why. There’s talk that gas prices could hit $5 per gallon this summer. Target 11 Consumer Investigator Robin Taylor wanted to know what the experts think so she called her sources.
I talked to ordinary folks, like Morgan Moser of Chippewa, who commutes 80 miles a day to get to her job in Pittsburgh. With prices nearing $4 per gallon, she's really feeling the pain at the pump.
"I'm in my car like an hour-and-a-half a day," said Moser. If prices hit 4$ or even $5 per gallon, she said it’s going to really hurt. “I drive an SUV and they're not good on gas."
Like many of us, she wants to know why prices are so high.
The answer is complicated. Tensions with Iran are part of the problem, but so is speculation on Wall Street. Industry experts said traders are spreading gloom and doom, and that’s driving up prices.
"They're making money on Wall Street, and they're making money for the producers of oil and crude," said Don Bowers, with Superior Petroleum Company.
Here in Western Pennsylvania, there's another problem. Three refineries just closed in the Philadelphia area, which will make it harder for gas stations here to get the summer blend of fuel, that's required from May to September to protect our air quality.
Bowers is a gasoline distributor. He said by May prices could spike.
"I think that we could see the prices go up over the $5 mark in Western Pennsylvania. I'm not so sure that's going to happen in Ohio and other states that aren't required to use this summer grade of gasoline," said Bowers.
Other experts said they think $4.50 is the tipping point, that gas prices won't go higher than that. Either way, it's a lot of money.
"That would be pretty bad. It would be another nail in the coffin for our economy, so that's kind of sad," said Cullen Richardson, of Sewickley.
"Somebody's going to the bus line. At this point, my daughter has to take the bus to work," said Kim Winters of Avalon.
"I won't be buying gas. I'll resort to a bicycle, peddle my butt around," said Jim Rak, of Avalon.
While we can't control gas prices, we can control where we buy fuel. I've found several ways to save, starting with fuel perks.
Giant Eagle and Shop 'n Save have rewards programs that lower the price per gallon.
Sam's Club members usually pay 5 to 10 cents less per gallon than the going rate.
Even Sheetz rewards loyal customers with 3 cents off per gallon.
"It's hard getting used to spending that much money every week for gasoline. We sell it. We don't like it,” said Bowers.
Supply and demand is what's driving up prices, but in this case, experts said there's no shortage of inventory.
It's the other factors that are the problem.
If you ask me, this is one time when I think the experts hope that they're wrong. None of them want to see gas prices go as high as they’ve predicted.