But whatever lies behind the dividend at the pump, drivers are happy to have it. The national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline tumbled to $2.35 on Friday, a drop of 3 cents in the past week and more than 2 cents below last year at this time, according to AAA. And Friday was the first time this year that prices were lower than a year earlier.
Among the beneficiaries was Charlene Kotlarsic of Garfield Heights, Ohio, who was filling up her 2016 Kia Sorento in the Cleveland suburbs for $2.21 a gallon. She expects to take advantage of the lower prices for a road trip to Myrtle Beach, S.C., in July. “I probably wouldn’t have planned it if gas prices were $3 and above,” she said.
Ohio drivers are among those most likely to notice the impact. Of the 23 states where prices are lower than a year ago, a cluster of states — Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and Wisconsin — are seeing the biggest declines. Indiana drivers are paying 28 cents a gallon less on average than last year, meaning a driver can save around $5 in filling up a midsize car.
Most energy experts say the break in gasoline prices may last only a few weeks, because stronger seasonal demand will soon draw down refinery storage levels. And if oil prices stay low, that would depress new production, which could eventually push prices higher.
“Drivers should be very happy because all prognosticators overestimated what they would be paying,” said Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis for the Oil Price Information Service. “This is a slump, a buying opportunity, and Americans can enjoy it. But I think it is a little…