Columbus gas prices fall 31 cents in three weeks

Columbus gasoline prices have fallen more than 31 cents per gallon since hitting a record high of nearly $4.05 a gallon three weeks ago.

The city, at least for the moment, also has the lowest pump price of Georgia's eight top metro areas.

The price of regular unleaded is averaging $3.735 per gallon today in Columbus, according to the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report and the Oil Price Information Service.

That's down from $4.047 per gallon on July 16, the day the all-time high was set. The local price is still $1.16 per gallon higher than it was on Aug. 6 a year ago.

Randy Bly, spokesman for AAA Auto Club South, said several factors have primed the drop in prices at the pump. He said they include "a slowing U.S. economy, Americans driving less than they were in 2007, and a recent report from the U.S. Department of Labor indicating the unemployment rate hit a four-year high of 5.7 percent in July, partially due to employers struggling with high energy costs."

Though Columbus gas prices are averaging under $3.74 per gallon, several stations in the city are about a dime less than that today, according to a GasBuddy report that can be accessed through www.ledger-enquirer.com. A Citgo station in nearby Smiths Station, Ala., is even lower, however, with registering just under $3.59 per gallon.

Diesel also has backed off its record highs locally, statewide and nationally. The average in Columbus today is $4.554 per gallon, about 30 cents lower the record high set on July 15.

Albany has the highest average gas price in Georgia at $3.88 per gallon.

Nationally, regular unleaded gas is down to $3.86 per gallon, while diesel is averaging $4.63 per gallon.