Harvey got gas prices up, and Irma likely will keep them up

As predicted, Harvey’s flooding of Houston rocketed gas prices in Florida by 33 cents a gallon. The twist — of the economic knife — is that’s where gas prices stand as Floridians fill tanks and gas cans as Hurricane Irma poses a threat.

Gas prices in Florida are up to an average of $2.64 per gallon of regular gas, $2.69 in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, according to AAA. The closing of East Texas refineries and shipping routes turning impassable during Harvey’s hit created a supply drop reflected in pump prices.

Stations that had gas at $2.19 per gallon along the Northwest Seventh Avenue corridor on Aug. 28 sold it at $2.59 or $.2.69 by Saturday morning — if they had it. A run on gas left a Chevron station at Northwest 103rd Street and Interstate 95 dry. The Valero station at the corner of Northwest Seventh Street and 17th Avenue, next to Marlins Park, crept up to $2.49 until about 9 p.m. Friday, when it jumped to $2.73.

“Gas prices are reaching a point where they should begin to plateau,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Wholesale prices are finally showing weakness, which will relieve upward pressure on the retail side. Unfortunately, for motorists in the southeastern U.S., they may not see prices move lower until Hurricane Irma is long gone.”

Separately, as Hurricane Irma continues to move toward Florida, the state attorney general’s office announced that its anti-gouging hotline, 866-9-NOSCAM (1-866-966-7226), has been activated.

The attorney general’s office reminds “Section 501.160 Florida Statute states that during a state of emergency, it is unlawful to sell, lease, offer to sell, or offer for lease essential commodities, dwelling units, or self-storage facilities for an amount that grossly exceeds the average price for that commodity during the 30 days before the declaration of the state of emergency, unless the seller can justify the price by showing increases in its costs or market trends.”

Violators can be fined $1,000 per violation up to $25,000 for multiple violations within 24 hours. Also, those selling goods and services without an occupational license commit a second-degree misdemeanor.