The national average price of regular unleaded gasoline decreased in the month of March for the first time in 10 years, AAA reported.
Prices averaged almost 30 cents per gallon less than a year ago.
Monday's national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded was $3.63. A month ago, the average price was $3.72 a gallon, and a year ago it was $3.92.
For Nebraska, the average price Monday was $3.58 a gallon, down from $3.73 a month ago and $3.86 a year ago. Iowa's numbers: $3.58 Monday, $3.72 a month ago and $3.80 a year ago.
Prices dropped in March when many refineries resumed normal operations after completing seasonal maintenance, AAA said. The price of crude oil also remained relatively low for much of the month.
Gas prices spiked in late January through February mainly because of supply concerns, AAA added. Also, refineries in February processed the lowest amount of crude oil in nearly two years because of extensive maintenance and facility upgrades.
“It is very unusual for gas prices to decline in early spring like we have seen this year,” said AAA spokesman Avery Ash. “An increase in refinery production and lower oil prices in early March have combined to provide rare falling prices for motorists in comparison to recent years.”
The national average for 2013 reached $3.79 per gallon Feb. 27, which is the highest average price for this year, AAA said. Since that time, the national average has dropped 29 out of 33 days.
This week marks the one-year anniversary of the 2012 peak in gas prices, when the national average reached $3.94 per gallon April 5 and 6. Gas prices peaked in 2011 at $3.98 per gallon May 5.
Gas prices in April are expected to remain less expensive than in recent years, AAA said, because oil is cheaper and refinery production is rising. Most of the country, however, will shift to more expensive summer-blend gasoline and there is still refinery maintenance left to complete, AAA said, which could result in a brief spike in gas prices.
Officials expect the average price of gas in 2013 to be less than last year's average because of increased domestic production and continued low demand, AAA said.
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