Start planning that road trip: Gas prices have peaked, experts say

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Good news for those planning a summer road trip – experts say gas prices in Minnesota and around the country have peaked.

The national average for regular unleaded gasoline was $2.75 per gallon Monday, according to AAA Fuel Gauge Report. The average in Minnesota Monday was about $2.65, WCCO notes.

Gas prices have steadily increased since April, but now they're set for a season of decline. Refineries generally complete maintenance by this time ahead of the busy summer driving season and the cost of crude oil is unlikely to rise significantly, AAA says.

Prices at the pump are also significantly less than last year – about 90 cents on average – and drivers are expected to pay the lowest price during the summer driving season since 2009, AAA reports.

Patrick DeHaan, a senior petroleum analyst with GasBuddy.com, told WCCO he expects prices to drop another 5 to 15 cents by the Fourth of July, putting this year on pace for one of the busiest travel seasons on roadways in years.

"This could be the year of the summer road trip with lower gas prices motivating millions of people to travel," Avery Ash, AAA spokesman, said. "Many drivers are likely to save hundreds of dollars this summer as gas prices remain more affordable than in recent years."

Jump in price

Although prices are expected to decline, drivers in Minnesota may have noticed the price at the pump jump from last week to this week, which is due in part to a series of refinery issues in the Midwest that caused prices to surge.

Consumers in Minnesota are paying 8 cents more than they were a week ago – the highest increase of any state, AAA notes, but drivers are still paying nearly a dollar less than people in California, where gas is about $3.61 per gallon.

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