It was fleeting, but for a few hours Tuesday, a few gas stations in Eaton Rapids had the lowest prices on unleaded gasoline in the country, according to a national website that tracks gas prices.
Motorists filled up at three gas stations just off Main Street — Admiral, Speedway and Family Fare — for $1.94 a gallon Tuesday, said Patrick DeHaan, a petroleum analyst for www.gasbuddy.com .
The national website tracks gas prices in the United States, Canada and Australia using volunteer price spotters and taking information submitted by gas stations.
The prices at Eaton Rapids stations were significantly lower than the current national average of $2.57 per gallon, and the state average of $2.53 a gallon, DeHaan said.
"For several hours, at least, they were the lowest in the country," he said.
By 1:15 p.m. all three had raised the price to $2.34 a gallon, but not before countless cars waited in line at the pumps to take advantage of it.
Staff at the Speedway station declined to comment on the price at the pump Tuesday afternoon, but DeHaan said the low prices are a rare occurrence.
Michigan gas stations typically price gasoline slightly higher than the national average, he said, and usually don't have the lowest prices in the country. That's because the state's gas taxes are high, DeHaan said, and refineries aren't nearby.
DeHaan said prices in Eaton Rapids dipped lower than any other city in the country between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Tuesday.
"It happens so infrequently," DeHaan said. "This is something we're lucky to see happen once a year."
Gale Gray of Dimondale was pumping gas at the Speedway station off South Main Street just before 1 p.m. He was in Charlotte when his sister-in-law called to tell him about the $1.94 a gallon price.
"I'm not sure where she heard about it," Gray said. "I thought, 'Why not? I needed some gas."
Prices haven't been this low "for a while" he said, and the busy station was proof that "more people have heard about it than I expected."
Rena Zohott said she was driving by the station and pulled in when she saw the price. She's a district manager for a chain of restaurants and travels daily for work. The lower gas prices are rare, but welcome, she said.
"I think it's incredible the prices are so low," Zohott said. "Every dime you can save definitely helps."
Even after prices at other Eaton Rapids gas stations were raised to $2.34 a gallon, several people were filling up their vehicles at the Quality Dairy store down the street. The gas station's price was $2.03 per gallon until just before 1:30 p.m.
Staff at Quality Dairy declined to comment on the prices.
April Yeager said they were too good for many people to resist. She filled up her tank there just before 1:30 p.m.
"People who live on minimum wage, it could take them two or three hours of work to pay for a tank of gas," she said. "It's sad, and really wrong. Every penny counts for working American families."
Just a few feet away Tiana Baker, 17, was in the process of filling up all three of her family's vehicles.
People treat lower gas prices with urgency, she said, and they should.
"It's going to go up," she said. "In a short period of time it'll go up."
By 1:30 p.m. Tuesday they had, and DeHaan said a gas station in Texas was holding on to the country's lowest price at $1.94 per gallon.
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