Energy expert: Rising gas prices only temporary
Hurricane Harvey is no longer raining down on the Houston area, but it continues to drive up gas prices across the country, impacting UH commuter students by increasing the cost of fueling their daily drives.
The national average per gallon increased 27 cents to $2.65 the week of Aug. 28, according to AAA. The storm forced the shutdown of at least 10 refineries in the Houston and Corpus Christi areas, according to CNN, but gas prices are lowering, according to AAA.
“It used to be $20 for a full tank, and now it’s about $32,” said computer science freshman Alejandra Chavez.
UH energy fellow and lecturer Ed Hirs said the refineries shut down operations prior to Harvey’s arrival. There are some stations that do not have supplies at any price due to these shut downs, Hirs said.
“The public bought the inventory of gasoline that was in place, and the distributors and refiners are now in catch up mode,” Hirs said.
Gov. Greg Abbott addressed concerns about the fuel shortage Aug. 25 at a news conference about Hurricane Harvey.
“There’s plenty of fuel, plenty of gasoline in the United States of America, and there’s plenty of gasoline in the state of Texas,” Abbott said. “There is a perception of concern, but the reality is we’re going to have plenty of gasoline.”
Hirs said he understands the inconvenience the gas prices have caused but does expect a recovery in the gas market.
“My estimation is that refineries should be back to business as usual no more than eight weeks post-Harvey…perhaps sooner,” Hirs said.
Once the refineries get back to normal operations, the Harvey-induced price increase will disappear, Hirs said.
“As a college student who commutes for at least an hour to and from school everyday, the rising gas prices have been hard to deal with,” said business sophomore Lydia Huynh. “There is no way for me to lessen the amount of driving I do because it’s for school purposes.”
According to Commuter Student Services, commuter students make up about 85 percent of the undergraduate population.
“Since the hurricane, the prices continue to rise, and this has put a dent in my wallet,” said supply chain management sophomore Sidney Jenkins. “Being a full time student and having to commute every day can be not only be time consuming, but costly as well.”
Parking and Transportation Services offers alternative options to get to campus every day. The Coogs on Alternative and Sustainable Transportation, or COAST, program is an incentive program for people who carpool or use other alternative and sustainable options, such as the METRO bus system, to commute to campus.
“The increasing gas prices have been so inconvenient to many UH commuter students in the same boat as me — having to drive hours to get to school and suffer the damages and loss of Hurricane Harvey,” Huynh said.
According to the COAST website, the program minimizes the number of vehicles traveling to campus while also reducing Houston’s carbon footprint by relieving traffic congestion.
Hirs said those affected by the gas prices should remember that the current price is not the highest in recent memory.
Prices reached $4 per gallon in 2008, he said.