Gas Prices in California Hit All-Time Highs, but Relief Could Be Coming Soon

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Drivers in California already pay the highest gas prices in the country by a wide margin, and now some sections of the state are seeing record highs – including more than $8 a gallon in certain southern California markets. But don’t despair yet, Golden Staters — there are a couple of encouraging signs on the horizon.

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One is speculation that prices could soon go down again — despite this week’s news that OPEC will slash its oil production by 2 million barrels a day, a move some fear will lead to a global spike in gas prices.

As USA Today reported, wholesale spot prices for gasoline sold by refineries and others in California fell by as much as $1.25 a gallon from recent highs and could drop even more, according to Patrick De Haan, an analyst at GasBuddy. He told USA Today that the main reason for the decline was a recent directive by California Gov. Gavin Newsom that would allow oil refineries to immediately switch to cheaper winter blend gasoline a month earlier than normal.

De Haan expects widespread price declines to occur over the weekend, after owners and operators use up higher-priced summer blends and replace them with the lower-priced supply.

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For now, average gas prices in California are back on the rise, hitting $6.420 a gallon as of Oct. 6, 2022, according to AAA. That’s roughly two-thirds higher than the national average of $3.867 a gallon.

The price in California is up more than $1 from its average of $5.268 as recently as September, and is only slightly below the state’s record high of $6.438 a gallon set in June 2022. Even $6.420 a gallon looks like a bargain in some parts of California — including SoCal markets that have seen prices at the pump move above $8 a gallon.

Oh the bright side, financial relief is on its way in the form of rebates due to go out to about 23 million Californians beginning in October. The one-time payments are designed to give Golden State residents relief from this year’s soaring inflation. They were made possible by California’s substantial budget surplus.

As previously reported by GOBankingRates, eligible residents will receive between $200 and $1,050, depending on the household makeup and the recipient’s adjusted gross income listed on their 2020 state tax returns. Households with income higher than a $500,000 a year will not receive a rebate.

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Here’s the breakdown for everyone else:

Joint filers: 

  • $150,000 or less: $1,050 with a dependent; $700 without a dependent
  • $150,001-$250,000: $750 or $500
  • $250,001-$500,000: $600 or $400

Individual filers: 

  • $75,000 or less: $700 with a dependent; $350 without a dependent
  • $150,001-$250,000: $500 or $250
  • $250,001-$500,000: $400 or $200

Head of household or surviving spouse: 

  • $150,000 or less: $700 with a dependent; $350 without a dependent
  • $150,001-$250,000: $500 or $250
  • $250,001-$500,000: $400 or $200

Rebates were due to be sent out beginning in October 2022 and all should be issued by January 2023.

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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.
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