Madison: Gas prices are going up, and they probably won't stop until they hit $3 a gallon according to a Department of Energy report.
Gas prices around Madison went up another dime Tuesday, meaning prices have jumped nearly 50 cents in the last 6 weeks.
The good news is experts say the price will go down, just not anytime soon.
"In our lifetime we will see gasoline prices go back down," says Ben Brockwell, a nationally recognized petroleum expert. "Right now we're in an upward spiral that's going to take us to $3 this summer. That number is already built into this market, unfortunately."
Brockwell is the Director of Data for the Oil Price Information Service in New Jersey, an independent oil analyst company. He was in Madison for the Petroleum Marketers Convention.
Brockwell echoes predictions from the Department of Energy that prices will fluctuate for the next couple months. "It's going to be a situation where on a daily basis prices can go up a nickel, down a nickel, 30 cents on a weekly basis. It's going to be a very volatile market over the next 60 days."
The larger question is just how much do the higher prices hurt the family budget? And should $3 a gallon for gas affect your vacation plans?
Compare a trip to Eagle River for vacation in 2004, with one this summer. Round trip from Madison that's 450 miles. The average car gets 22.2 miles to the gallon, so the whole trip takes 20 gallons. In 2004, gas was $1.94 a gallon, so the trip this summer at $3 a gallon will cost an extra $21 dollars.
Wisconsin Department of Tourism Secretary Jim Holperin hopes that's not enough to keep you home this summer. He's betting you'll just spend less when you get there. "Will high gas or energy prices depress spending? Will there be less discretionary spending at a destination? The answer right now is probably a little bit, maybe later on a little more."
As for when gas prices are expected to come down, Brockwell predicts supply and capacity will catch up to demand within a few years.