Utah's average for diesel, $3.84 per gallon, is up 2 cents from last month. Utahns with diesel-powered vehicles haven't seen pump prices budge in recent months even in January when Utah's unleaded average slipped to the lowest in the country.
"When diesel is a lot higher than unleaded, like it is now, it really bothers me," said Maynard Christensen of West Valley City, who has driven a diesel-powered truck since 2007. "It's really disappointing."
Where pump prices for either diesel or unleaded are headed is hard to predict, with a variety of factors in play that could move prices in either direction, according to AAA. For example, refineries in the United States and Europe that have cut gasoline production could provide upward pressure on pump prices, noted AAA spokesman Matt Skryja.
Prices also typically increase as the summer driving season begins.
Complicating any forecasts, however, is the fact that Utah's pump prices often move in the opposite direction of national trends, sometimes in a unexplainable way. For much of 2010, for example, Utah motorists were paying either the highest or among the highest prices in the U.S. By early 2011, however, they were paying among the lowest. Utah's ranking relative to other states has seesawed since then.
The difference in cost between unleaded and diesel prices has changed, too. Years ago, diesel prices in Utah were actually cheaper than unleaded or at least comparable. But in the past several years, the cost of diesel has often been substantially higher than unleaded.
As always, shopping around can yield substantial savings over time. Although the statewide average for unleaded on Wednesday was $3.09, motorists in the Salt Lake area reported filling up for as little as $2.88 per gallon at some stations, according to Saltlake-gasprices.com, a gas-price comparison website.
The difference in prices among stations close to one another can be large. One location was selling regular unleaded fuel at $2.92 per gallon Wednesday, while another nearby was selling the same grade for $3.11 per gallon.
Utah average unleaded gas prices
Tuesday • $3.09
Week ago • $3.09
Month ago • $2.92
Year ago • $3.07
Record high • $4.22 on July 18, 2008
Tuesday • $3.51
Week ago • $3.48
Month ago • $3.39
Year ago • $3.13
Record high • $4.11 on July 17, 2008