MOUNT DESERT ISLAND—The price of gas is going up and has continued to do so over the past two months.
In less than a month’s time, Bar Harbor’s Big Apple Convenience Store has seen a 16-cent increase in the price of fuel.
According to the website GasBuddy, the average price for a gallon of gas in Hancock County has risen about 80 cents to a high of $2.46 this month. The lowest recorded weekly average during the pandemic was $1.75 in April of 2020.
The reason for this increase is supply and demand, but it also has to do with hope. Despite being a year into a global pandemic, economists say that optimism over the vaccine rollout is in part driving up the prices of crude oil futures as a return to normal appears to be only months away.
American Automobile Association spokesman Mark Jenkins agrees that the price hike reflects the belief that COVID-19 vaccines will eventually lead to more global fuel consumption. He anticipates more vehicle travel during the summer months and that gas prices will continue to trend upward.
Innkeeper Cathy Coston of Bar Harbor agrees that the prices are based on supply and demand, adding, “I expect that gas prices and oil prices will certainly increase,” she said.
Former Maine House of Representatives candidate Timothy Oh of Mount Desert said that many things have gotten more expensive because of the pandemic. “The cost of living, the cost of fuel, everything is going up, we have to be very cognizant of our fragile economy and very wary about increasing the tax load on Mainers if we want people to be able to afford to live here.”
Just two months ago, fuel at Shell Gas in Mount Desert was $2.19 a gallon. It’s now $2.49 a gallon.
“Let’s face it…gas prices have been around $2 and that’s been fantastic, the gas station up here has gone up at least 20 cents in less than a month,” said retired helicopter manufacturer Paul Garth of Trenton.
While some residents speculated that the reason for the increase is in part due to the current administration’s anticipated policies to combat climate change, industry experts say it is too soon to know the impact of such policy changes.
“It is inaccurate to blame [the] Biden [Administration] today for rising gas prices. The trends happening today preceded him,” said Patrick De Haan of GasBuddy.
“The rise in gas prices continues to be driven by improving demand in the United States and has nothing to do with who sits in the White House, but rather how many motorists are filling their tanks on a daily basis, and from that data, it’s no guess, but prices will continue to trend higher,” continued DeHann.
Extreme weather events, including freezing temperatures and power outages across the southern part of the country this week, are also expected to drive up prices in the near term. GasBuddy anticipates the price of gasoline could rise another 10 to 20 cents over the next two weeks due to severe weather in the South, which has caused the country’s oil refining capacity to temporarily go offline.