Gas prices in the Triangle rose another 11 cents in the last day, as damage to refineries and other facilities in the Gulf Coast reduces the supply of fuel arriving in the state.
The average price of regular unleaded was $2.45 a gallon early Friday morning, according to AAA. That’s 24 cents more a gallon than a week ago, just before Hurricane Harvey came ashore in Texas as a Category 4 storm. As of Wednesday evening, 10 refineries in the region remained shut down, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
The Triangle receives most of its gasoline from the Gulf Coast through pipelines operated by Colonial Pipeline Co. The company said late Thursday morning that its pipelines remain operational from Louisiana to the Northeast, but that “deliveries will be intermittent and dependent on terminal and refinery supply.”
To try to ease potential shortages, Gov. Roy Cooper signed an executive order on Thursday, declaring a state of emergency that temporarily suspends vehicle size and weight restrictions for trucks carrying gasoline and waives limits on the number of hours drivers of those trucks can be on the road. On Wednesday, Cooper asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to waive certain federal regulations on the formulas for gasoline to try to boost supplies in the state, and those were granted the same day.
The state law against price gouging also went into effect. The law defines gouging as “a price that is unreasonably excessive under the circumstances,” and state Attorney General Josh Stein urged people to report “suspiciously high” gas prices by calling 877-566-7226 or filing a complaint at www.ncdoj.gov.
Gas prices usually begin to go down around Labor Day, as the summer driving season comes to an end. AAA says the temporary shutdown of some refineries along the Gulf Coast will delay that decline, but prices will eventually come down.
“It is important to remember not to panic and overbuy gas – as there is no evidence that there will be a shortage in our states,” said Dave Parsons, president of AAA Carolinas, which predicts more than a million people from North and South Carolina will travel this weekend. “We encourage drivers to go about their Labor Day vacations as planned and not to panic at the pump.”