The leaves and gas prices both started falling in late September, but the Department of Natural Resources says while the leaves stayed down — gas prices did not. D-N-R energy analyst Jennifer Moehlmann says gas dropped an average of 15 cents-a-gallon in late September, but popped back up to one-dollar and 52-cents-a-gallon in the latest survey. Moehlmann says the increase is partly due to routine maintenance that took refineries off-line. She says the maintenance is generally scheduled in the spring and fall when there’s less demand. But, she says the demand has inexplicably stayed high this fall, increasing the demand, and driving up prices. Moehlman says there’s an unexplained increase in travel that keeps a drain on gas supplies. She says every year people drive a little more and demand goes up normally one to two percent. She says they’re “mystified” that demand hasn’t dropped off this fall like it normally does when kids go back to school and farmers hit the field. Moehlmann says there’s likely a link to an increase in tourism that includes trips in the car instead of flying. Iowa’s average gas prices are about 10 cents high than at this time last year. Iowa’s “Indian Summer” weather is good news for the heating budget. Moehlmann says the cost of three main fuels used for heating continue to be up — including propane. The average price for propane is a-dollar-one per gallon, five cents higher than last month and about 21 cents higher than last year. Moehlman says the good news is that the crops have come out of the fields dry enough that farmers haven’t needed much propane to dry them — increasing the supply available. The cost of heating oil is also up. She says it’s one-dollar and 20-cents-per-gallon, about eight cents higher than last year. Natural gas prices are still significantly higher, and they’re still predicting a 20 to 30 percent increase in cost. Moehlman says the recent warm weather is a positive in beating higher heating bills. She says starting off really cold in October make the biggest impact, because you draw down energy supplies early in the season. She says if we stay warmer through this month and into November, the stocks of fuel won’t go down and much, and the prices shouldn’t increase as much as well. Moehlman says the price of heating fuels traditionally begin to climb in the fall, hitting their peak in late winter.
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