In a twist that has energy experts bemused and confused, gasoline prices have been climbing for the past month on the premise that the economy will get better, motorists will increase their driving and demand for gasoline will increase.
Trouble is, gas consumption in California and the United States remains relatively flat, and unemployment in the Golden State tops 12 percent.
"It's playing a bigger role than in past years, this idea that the economy is starting to pick up, which would drive demand higher," said AAA spokesman Michael Geeser. "But it's just speculation. There's no evidence of it."
Evidence or not, the idea has driven oil prices beyond $80 a barrel lately, and gas prices have risen accordingly.
AAA said the average price of unleaded regular gasoline statewide on Monday was $3.10 per gallon, up from $3.08 a week ago and $2.92 a month ago. On March 22 last year, it was only $2.15.
In Sacramento, AAA said the average price of unleaded regular on Monday was $3.07, up from $3.05 last week, $2.87 a month ago and $2.13 last year.
Although its survey area differs from AAA, SactoGasPrices.com, a GasBuddy.com Web site, reported the same steady climb.
It said the average retail gas price in Sacramento rose 4 cents per gallon the past week to $3.04 on Monday – up 17.8 cents from a month ago and 91 cents from a year ago. Its average state price was $3.08.
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