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At last, Utah gas prices drop below $2 a gallon

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New lower gas prices are posted at the Albertsons station at 900 West and North Temple.

New lower gas prices are posted at the Albertsons station at 900 West and North Temple.

Laura Seitz, Deseret Morning News

Utah gasoline consumers are beginning to feel some relief at the pump, as filling stations have begun posting prices below $2 per gallon for regular unleaded fuel.

At the Maverik on 200 West and North Temple in Salt Lake City, station employee Codi Laws had to change the first number in the price of regular unleaded from a 2 to a 1.

"I haven't done that since I've worked here," said Laws, who has been at the station for the past 18 months.

As of Friday, AAA reported a $2.16 per gallon national average for regular unleaded. That figure was just over $2.30 per gallon one month ago, as it was a year ago at this time, AAA showed. AAA's highest recorded price for regular unleaded was $3.05 in September 2005.

In Utah, AAA said the average price of regular unleaded is $2.19 per gallon. In the Provo/Orem and Salt Lake City/Ogden areas, that average is about $2.14 per gallon, about 10 cents cheaper than one month ago.

At the Web site www.utahgasprices.com, Albertsons, Flying J, Maverik and Sam's Club all had stations with gas below $2 per gallon in some parts of the state.

The price drop at the pump could be partly attributed to the cost of oil recently falling below $60 per barrel, according to Rolayne Fairclough, spokeswoman for AAA Utah.

"We did anticipate that would happen," Fairclough said about the response of fuel prices to the cost of oil.

She also said this is typically the time of year when prices come down as refineries look to get rid of any stockpiled fuel in preparation for a switch to making a formula of gas specific for summer use.

How long will the sub-$2 prices last?

"Not long enough, probably," said Maverik customer Bob Breitenbeker.

Alicia Fluhman could have filled up her SUV at the North Temple Maverik a few days ago when the price was $2.05. She decided to wait.

"Today, I saw the price and I couldn't resist," Fluhman said. She's also skeptical about how long Friday's price will last.

"'Til tomorrow, probably."

It could be worse. Fluhman could be trying to fill up in Blanding, Meadow, Salina, Loa, Delta, Monticello or Cedar City, where the state's higher prices range from $2.29 to $2.43 per gallon.

While many Utahns may still consider the sub-$2 a gallon high for the price of gas, it's a different story in England, which is where Lee James said he's from.

"Gas prices right now aren't worrying me too much, since in England they're usually double what they are here," he said while refueling his little red sports car.

In May 2006, when the average price of regular unleaded in Utah and throughout the country was below $2.40 per gallon, the national average in Britain was $6.48 a gallon, according to a story by The Daily Auto Insider, posted at www.caranddriver.com. At stations in one of London's more "chic" neighborhoods, the price was as high as $8 per gallon. The story noted that taxes account for about 66 percent of the cost of fuel at the pump in England.

E-mail: sspeckman@desnews.com