EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) — The impact of severe winter weather is far from over. Economists fear the financial fallout could be great, but a local economic expert says El Paso might have avoided much of it. Still, El Paso could face higher gas prices for several weeks.
UTEP economics and finance professor Tom Fullerton said nationwide estimates show gas prices could rise by about 10 to 20 cents per gallon. Fullerton expects El Paso to be on the lower end of the scale, but warns the price hikes could last for three weeks or longer.
Fullerton blames the spike on the fact that production and distribution have been disrupted. Plus, crude petroleum prices have gone up.
He warned other areas that experienced harsher weather could face other economic impacts too, such as increased utility costs and decreased profits.
Fullerton credits local utility upgrades after freezing temperatures in 2011 for part of the reason El Paso fared so well.
“Here locally, utilities did a good job of responding to the problems that emerged in 2011 and this year we're reaping the benefits of those efforts to try to be ready to address this type of event if it did occur again,” Fullerton said. “Lo and behold, almost 10 years to the date, it did occur again.”
Beyond gas prices, Fullerton said El Paso will likely be shielded from much of the financial fallout.
“The temperature declines persisted over a shorter period of time here in El Paso. And so the damage was much more limited,” he said. “The second reason is that the public utilities here in El Paso, water, natural gas, as well as electricity, all of them upgraded their facilities and they weatherized their systems.”
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