Those pre-Fourth of July forecasts, calling for skyrocketing gasoline prices the remainder of the summer, have fizzled across Western Pennsylvania.

Prices, instead, have fallen across the region for seven consecutive weeks. The latest decline occurred this week, as the average price of a gallon of unleaded self-serve dropped to $2.750 – a 2.2-cent dip from $2.772 last week, AAA East Central announced Wednesday afternoon.

Fuel across the region has dropped 17.4 cents over the past month, and the new average is 35.4 cents cheaper than it was a year ago, at $3.104.

Washington’s price plummeted 7.0 cents over the week, from $2.786 to $2.716. That average is seventh lowest among 22 Western Pennsylvania cities and towns monitored by AAA. Washington’s figure has dropped 25.6 cents over the past four weeks.

For the 18th time in 19 weeks, Altoona has the cheapest gasoline in the region with an average of $2.533. That is 11.7 cents cheaper than the area with the second-lowest average, Du Bois ($2.650). Latrobe ($2.662) and Uniontown ($2.684) rank third- and fourth-lowest.

Mercer ($2.909) has the most expensive gas, one cent higher than Warren ($2.899).

Pennsylvania’s average declined four cents to $2.71, as fuel costs this week fell in all states in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast region. New York ($2.76) ranks 10th among all states, but is the only one from the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast to be in the national top 10. Pennsylvania is 13th, though.

Regional gas inventory rose by 1.6 million barrels, according to the Energy Information Administration. That lifted stock levels to 63.9 million barrels, a three-month high and similar to inventory of a year ago. This is a boost, considering refinery utilization is down to 66%.

Prices may continue to drop in upcoming weeks, with the summer driving season ending and a transition to winter blend gasoline ahead.

The national average fell two cents to $2.57, which is 26 cents cheaper than a year ago.

Business Writer

Rick Shrum joined the Observer-Reporter as a reporter in 2012, after serving as a section editor, sports reporter and copy editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Rick has won eight individual writing awards, including two Golden Quills.

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