Gasoline consumption in California rose 2.4 percent during the 2014-15 fiscal year, the largest annual increase since the 2003-04 fiscal year and a likely byproduct of the Golden State’s improving economy, according to the state Board of Equalization.
Cheaper fuel costs likely contributed as well, according to the BOE and energy analysts.
In fiscal year 2014-15, the board said in-state motorists consumed 14.92 billion gallons of gasoline, up from 14.57 billion gallons the previous year.
In its statistics released Monday, the BOE said the average price of gas in fiscal year 2014-15 was $3.42 per gallon, down nearly 13 percent from an average of $3.92 a gallon the year before.
The board also noted that diesel fuel consumption rose about 2.5 percent in 2014-15, following a 3.5 percent jump in 2013-14. Diesel consumption, considered an indicator of truck commerce, totaled more than 2.8 billion gallons in 2014-15.
Gasoline consumption in the Golden State was generally flat or declining over the past decade. In fact, according to BOE figures, in the 10 fiscal years from 2004-05 to 2013-14, the annual rate of consumption declined in eight of those years. Experts cited the recession, a decrease in road trips taken by California residents and less overall consumer demand for gas.
BOE members said they were encouraged by the latest numbers.
“California’s economy is improving and getting stronger every day. Lower gas prices are a driving factor behind our state’s improving economy,” board member Diane Harkey said.
“The increase in gasoline consumption shows more people are working, and families can afford more road trips now,” BOE Chairman Jerome Horton said.
Horton’s observation dovetailed with AAA reports of increased road trip travel by Californians over the past couple of years. AAA observed that more Golden State residents have been willing to travel more than 50 miles over holiday periods, encouraged by higher employment, an improving economy and lower gasoline prices.