Plummeting prices
Spokesman: Downward trend could continue into next week

LAWRENCEVILLE - Stock prices aren't the only things falling, but the sharp drop in gas prices is actually good news for the American public.

Overnight, gas prices in Georgia dropped an average of 9 cents a gallon, and AAA Auto Club South spokesman Randy Bly said the downward trend could continue into next week.

The sharp drop, he said, is allowing the state's prices to level out with national trends, as the state has recovered from the supply problems caused by Hurricanes Gustav and Ike over the past several weeks.

Bly said prices should soon drop below $3 a gallon, quoting Monday's statewide average of $3.241. According to gasbuddy.com, several local stations had already dipped below $3 Tuesday.

With oil prices teetering around $80 a barrel, Bly said the prices for gasoline should continue to drop this week and into next week.

"The trend is definitely downward and the trend is definitely very rapid," he said, adding that prices typically drop in the fall. "It's basically a seasonal thing, but magnified by Ike and Gustav. The spikes are higher and lower. ... Part of this is a market correction."

While the price relief will continue this month, Bly said not to expect it to last into the holidays, which are typically a high travel period where prices increase. Plus, he said, the trend will depend on an emergency meeting of OPEC, set for November.

Gwinnett's fleet management director Michael Lindsey said the county government didn't have the same price problems that people felt at the pump.

Lindsey said he had to pay about $2,500 extra to have supplies shipped from other areas, but because of a contract, the county's gas prices were closer to the national average than the state one during the supply crunch of the past few weeks. The county's prices fluctuated from $3.16 to $3.39 per gallon, compared to pump prices eclipsing $4 a gallon.

After scrambling to fill up school buses, fire engines and police cars after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, officials were prepared for the supply problems of Ike and Gustav. Lindsey said the county's fueling sites were filled before the hurricanes hit, and contracts with multiple vendors ensured the supply continued.

"We had some tight days, but for the most part we were able to get fuel when we needed it," Lindsey said, pointing out that the county implemented a fuel conservation plan earlier in the summer to keep consumption done.

"The most important thing was we didn't panic," he said, attributing some of the pump problems to consumers' dismay.

The county government also supplies gas to both the county and Buford school systems, the library system, Gwinnett Medical Center and the cities of Suwanee, Norcross, Duluth, Auburn and Snellville.

This summer, the county reached a new agreement with the school system, and last week the agreement with the other agencies was updated. Lindsey said the mark-up was reduced by 5 percent with those agencies.

"Because we negotiated a good price on fuel, we were trying to pass that along," he said. "We're always better than the retail (price)."