Connecticut’s temporary suspension of the state’s 25-cent-per-gallon excise tax on gasoline pushed prices below $4 per gallon at some area gas stations on Friday, but the overall effect of the price reduction has been difficult to assess.
Some of those filling up their tanks were unaware or only dimly aware that Gov. Ned Lamont and lawmakers had taken steps to ease the burden on consumers, at least until June 30.
A few noted that it was an election year.
Dave Mamula, a Niantic resident refueling at Flanders Shell on the corner of Boston Post and Chesterfield roads in East Lyme, said, “I think I am,” when asked if he knew he was paying less than he would have paid the day before.
“It doesn’t make a big difference to me,” he said before turning to politics. “When Donald Trump was president, gas was $2.50. I’m a Republican, what can I say? We need to put Republicans in power — in the White House and in the State Capitol.
Haseeb Butt, the director of Flanders Shell, said the station cut prices at midnight Thursday, dropping the cash price of a gallon from $4.20 to $3.95. He said the station had taken a delivery from his distributor two days earlier, meaning he was selling what was left of the shipment at a discount he hadn’t gotten.
He said he understands the state is “trying to do something” for retailers in his situation.
“It all depends on how they charge me,” Butt said. “I hope to God they’ll charge me fairly.”
He said the majority of people “realize the price of everything is ridiculously high”, not just gasoline, suggesting many have become accustomed to soaring prices and shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cesar Navas of East Lyme hadn’t noticed the fall in prices at Flanders Shell, even as he started to pump. “They’re still a bit high,” he said. “But maybe that will ease the tension a bit.”
Navas said he filled up for $25 before prices started to climb, whereas now it costs him $45. He said the increase has forced him to reconsider his driving habits, even forcing him to give up a job 30 minutes away for one closer to home.
At the Henny Penny convenience store/Shell station on Route 85 in Waterford, regular gasoline was $4.07 on Friday, reflecting the state excise tax suspension, according to the manager.
Seth Chartier of Windham, who was refueling there, said he had no idea petrol prices had been reduced. “I’m not that affected,” he said. “I just have to pay.”
Informed of the price drop, Stacey Ornberg of New London, another client of Henny Penny, asked if it was an April Fool’s joke. She says she’s gotten used to “ridiculously high” prices, with the cost of filling up her vehicle going from $35 to $50. “It’s just to and from work,” she said.
AAA reported on Friday that the price of crude oil fell below $100 a barrel for the first time since February after President Joe Biden announced the day before that the United States would release 180 million barrels from the strategic reserve of oil over the next six months.
After hitting $4.33 on March 11, the national average gasoline price fell to $4.21 a gallon, down three cents from last week.
In Connecticut, Friday’s average price was $4.27, down four cents from last week, but up 54 cents from a month ago and up $1.38 more than there. is one year old, according to AAA. In the New London-Norwich area, Friday’s average price was $4.29, down two cents from last week and up 36 cents from a year ago.
“Nationally, gasoline demand is again defying seasonal trends and has fallen for the second week in a row,” said Tracy Noble, spokeswoman for AAA in Greater Hartford. “If demand continues to fall as gasoline inventories continue to pile up, prices will likely continue to fall.”
State Attorney General William Tong issued guidance on Friday for consumers who suspect gasoline tax exemption violations.
“Any gas station suspected of charging the 25 cent tax, or part thereof during the holidays, will be investigated by the Attorney General’s Office…” Tong said in a statement. “Acting in coordination with the Department of Consumer Protection, the Office of the Attorney General may take action against retailers found to have violated this law and seek appropriate relief, including injunctive relief, restitution and civil financial penalties designed to deter would-be unscrupulous traders. sellers.”
Consumers are encouraged to file complaints online using the Attorney General’s Office Complaint Portal: dir.ct.gov/ag/complaint.