As gas prices face a surge throughout Illinois and travel increases, many will likely start asking where to find the cheapest nearby.
According to AAA, the average price for a gallon of gas in the state has risen from $3.161 per gallon to $3.213 in the past seven days for regular unleaded fuel, an increase of more than five cents.
As of Tuesday, Gasbuddy.com listed Illinois as having the highest average gas price in the Midwest. On Tuesday afternoon, the national average of gas was at $2.97, while Illinois stood at $3.20, according to the site.
For a way find the cheapest gas prices nearby or at any destination in the U.S., click here. Gasbuddy.com also allows users to filter through fuel type, payment method and station brand.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker notes during a press conference Wednesday that more Americans have reported they intend to travel this summer after the COVID-19 pandemic put exploration on pause, making for a likely surge of cars on Illinois roadways in coming months.
"Recent surveys show that half of Americans plan to travel the summer, and half of them intend to drive. So, whether you want to ease your way back into travel or ready to go, taking the great American road trip is a great way to enjoy yourself and to stay safe," Pritzker said.
After a hack of the nation’s largest fuel pipeline led to panic-buying that contributed to more than 1,000 gas stations running out of fuel, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is reminding drivers not to fill plastic bags with gasoline
"We know this sounds simple, but when people get desperate they stop thinking clearly," the commission tweeted Wednesday. "They take risks that can have deadly consequences. If you know someone who is thinking about bringing a container not meant for fuel to get gas, please let them know it's dangerous."
Currently, there is no gasoline shortage, but if the pipeline shutdown continues past the weekend, it could create broader fuel disruptions.
The Colonial Pipeline, which delivers about 45% of what is consumed on the East Coast, was hit on Friday with a cyberattack by hackers who lock up computer systems and demand a ransom to release them. The attack raised concerns, once again, about the vulnerability of the nation’s critical infrastructure.
The pipeline runs from the Gulf Coast to the New York metropolitan region, but states in the Southeast are more reliant on the pipeline for fuel. Other parts of the country have more sources to tap.
“What you’re feeling is not a lack of supply or a supply issue. What we have is a transportation issue,” said Jeanette McGee, spokeswoman for the AAA auto club. “There is ample supply to fuel the United States for the summer, but what we’re having an issue with is getting it to those gas stations because the pipeline is down.”
A large part of the pipeline resumed operations manually late Monday, and Colonial anticipates restarting most of its operations by the end of the week, U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said.
However, the disruption is taking place at the time of year when Americans begin to become more mobile, especially as the nation emerges from the pandemic.
AAA predicts the national gas price average will rise even higher in response to the Colonial Pipeline shutdown.
"This shutdown will have implications on both gasoline supply and prices, but the impact will vary regionally," AAA spokesperson Jeanette McGee said in a statement.
The shutdown is expected to largely impact the East Coast, however.
“You go to some states, and you’re going to see much higher increases, especially in the South, because that’s where you’re seeing the largest impact in terms of strain of gasoline, or strain of people,” McGee said.
The White House said Wednesday that the Department of Transportation is now allowing Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia to use interstate highways to transport overweight loads of gasoline and other fuels under existing disaster declarations.
Still, prices are expected to fluctuate elsewhere in the leadup to Memorial Day weekend as demand continues to increase.
AAA released its holiday forecast on Tuesday, showing that 1.8 million Illinoisans plan to travel for the holiday. That’s just under pre-pandemic levels of 2 million in 2019; 57% higher than 2020.
“Last year, gas prices were so low. Now, people are looking at the gas prices today and it feels like a sticker shock,” said AAA spokeswoman Molly Hart. “There is a likelihood that gas prices will go up a bit more.”
Gas prices are dramatically higher in 2021 compared to last year. Last May, gasoline cost $2.115 a gallon on average, according to AAA.
Hart cites vaccinations and eagerness to “get out” as the main reasons for the return of travelers.