EIA Says 2015 Average Household Gasoline Costs Could be Lowest Since 2004

AASHTO Journal, 19 December 2014

eiacharts.jpg    Figures by Energy Information Administration

The average U.S. household is on course to spend about $550 less on gasoline in 2015 than it spent in 2014, the Energy Information Administration said, with the annual bill for gasoline and motor oil spending to reach its lowest level in 11 years.

With pump prices falling and the nation’s passenger vehicle fleet becoming more fuel-efficient, the EIA projected the average household will pay $1,962 in motor fuel costs next year, down from about $2,512 this year. The agency noted, though, that the expenditure estimate is based on a “highly uncertain” forecast about the level of fuel prices in the year ahead.

The national average pump price for regular gasoline fell for the 11th straight week in the EIA’s survey of fueling stations, to $2.55 a gallon on Dec. 15. That is 68.5 cents lower than the same point in 2013. The average diesel price, used by most trucking companies to automatically adjust fuel surcharges, was $3.42 on Dec. 15, down 45 cents from a year earlier.

If the EIA’s forecast holds up for household spending on motor fuel, the 2015 level will be the lowest since 2004 and the first time since 2009 that the average annual bill has been below $2,000.

Amid this year’s sharp drop in fuel prices, some states are considering transportation revenue packages that include higher taxes on gasoline and other fuels. Michigan’s legislature on Dec. 19 voted to put a revenue plan before voters next spring that among other things includes mildly higher fuel taxes. Recently, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad said the fuel price decline makes this a good time to consider raising more tax revenue for transportation.

Some policymakers and transportation industry officials have suggested that Congress do the same at the national level to help replenish the Highway Trust Fund. President Obama recently told the Business Roundtable that he thinks Congress is more likely to weave a major trust fund measure into a broad overhaul of income tax policies.

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