Michigan gas prices rise as summer, Memorial Day approach
- Gas stations have until June 1 to switch to summer-grade gasoline, which contains less butane and causes less pollution
- The switch from winter to summer-grade gasoline causes prices to increase in the spring ahead of summer
- Prices can be expected to decrease in late summer and into fall as producers switch back to winter blend
Michiganders felt some relief at the pumps over the last year as gas prices declined. But fuel prices, which moved up in April, are expected to trend up again this summer.
As many people plan weekend trips ahead of Memorial Day, they may notice they’re spending more money at the pump. Gas prices fluctuate all the time and most people expect prices to go back down after the holiday weekend.
Bridge spoke to Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, an app that helps people save money on fuel, who debunked the myth that gas prices usually go up around certain holidays but fall back down after.
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“Typically prices actually peak before the start of the summer … sometime in spring between April and May,” De Haan said. “Much of that is due to the refinery maintenance that happens between winter and spring and also the change over to summer blends of gasoline.”
Summer-grade fuel is more expensive to produce and people tend to drive more as the weather warms, increasing demand — yet another factor in higher summer prices.
The Clean Air Act gives The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the authority to require states to switch over to summer-grade gas.
Summer-grade gasoline typically contains 2 percent of butane, a colorless, odorless gas that is used in lighter fluid for example. In the winter, gas contains more butane, to help vehicles start up in colder weather.
Fuel terminals are required to make the switch by May 1, according to the Energy Information Administration. Gas stations across the country have just a few more days to switch to summer-grade gasoline by the June 1 deadline.
The summer blend burns cleaner and contributes less to air pollution, which is more of a threat in hot weather.
Last week the average price for a gallon of regular gas in Michigan was $3.33. This week the average is $3.56, a jump of 23 cents a gallon, according to AAA Michigan.
But that’s still far better than a year ago. At this time last year, the average price for one gallon of regular gas in Michigan was $4.58. Now, residents pay over a dollar less.
Fuel terminals and gas stations will make the switch back to the winter blend after September 15.
“Prices are going to be higher in the spring and summer and lower in the fall and winter,” De Haan said.
De Haan said drivers can save money on fuel by comparing gas prices in different areas and shopping around for cheaper fuel.
AAA listed the average price for regular gas in Michigan metropolitan areas:
- Traverse City $3.64 per gallon
- Jackson $3.63 per gallon
- Lansing/East Lansing $3.60
- Marquette $3.60 per gallon
- Grand Rapids/Muskegon/Holland $3.59 per gallon
- Saginaw/Bay City/Midland $3.58
- Ann Arbor- $3.58 per gallon
- Flint $3.58 per gallon
- Benton Harbor $3.53 per gallon
- metro Detroit $3.51
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