[5/11 This article has been revised based on corrections noted in comments~cr]
California’s Retail Electricity Price Highest in the Continental U.S. & More than Double the Western U.S. Average Price
Guest essay by Larry Hamlin
During the last 25 years (the period inclusive of 1999 to 2023) Democrats have controlled the legislature of the State of California and adopted ineffective, misguided and economically damaging energy and climate legislation that created skyrocketing electricity prices for California residents, businesses, and organizations.
The state legislature has imposed these high prices and their resulting economic consequences despite the real world reality that their politically contrived measures are completely irrelevant regarding any ability to produce globally meaningful energy and climate outcomes as addressed here.
The Democrat legislature pushed these measures claiming that they are providing global “influence” and “leadership” regarding renewable energy use and emissions reductions.
The developing nations (led by massive coal burning China and India) totally control global energy use and emissions outcomes and have completely ignored and dismissed the Democrats efforts to “influence” and “lead” the world with their mandated and ineffective renewable energy use and emissions reduction schemes.
EIA average retail electricity price data provides the Total Electric Industry price in each state (as well the average across the U.S.) which includes price information from all full-service providers, restructured retail service providers, energy-only providers, and delivery-only service providers. These electric service provider categories comprise the total electricity supply services utilized within each state.
The EIA average retail electricity price data are established for Residential, Commercial, Industrial, Transportation and Other consumer categories with an overall Total price average included for each state as well the average across the U.S.
Each states EIA average retail electricity price data for years 1990 through 2020 are available here with updated data for year 2021 total average retail electricity prices available here.
The year 2021 EIA total average retail electricity price data for each state and U.S. average are shown below as provided on the latter EIA data link noted above.
The EIA year 1999 Total Electric Industry average retail electricity price data for each state and U.S. average are shown below with the blue colored area providing the Residential, Commercial, Industrial, Transportation, Other and Total electricity price values respectively as provided on the first EIA data link noted above.
California’s ill-conceived energy and climate Democrat driven legislative schemes have resulted in California’s 2021 average retail electricity price now becoming, for the first time ever, the highest in the continental United States at 19.65 cents per kilowatt hour having grown by a factor of 2.246 (124.6%) since the 1999 average price of 8.75 cents per kilowatt hour.
During the 1999 to 2021 period EIA data shows that the average retail electricity price for the U.S. grew by 4.46 cents per kilowatt hour (from 6.64 cents per kilowatt hour in 1999 to 11.10 cents per kilowatt hour in 2021) while California’s average retail electricity price climbed by 10.9 cents per kilowatt hour (19.65 versus 8.75) more than twice the U.S. price increase.
The map shown below shows California’s neighboring continental U.S. contiguous western states that share many of the same energy and climate characteristics of this region including extensively wide-ranging areas of desert, forest, and mountainous terrain along with normally occurring weather driven events involving droughts, wildfires, heat waves, freezing cold, significantly varying rainfall and snow, etc.
The 10 other states that make up the continental western U.S. region have a year 2021 average retail electricity price of only 9.19 cents per kilowatt hour verses California’s 2021 record high average retail electricity price of 19.65 cents per kilowatt hour.
Incredibly, California’s year 2021 average retail electricity price is now a factor of 2.14 (114%) greater than the average of the other 10 western continental U.S. states.
In year 1999 California’s average retail electricity price was only about 72% greater (8.75 cents per kilowatt hour versus 5.08 cents per kilowatt hour for the other 10 western states) than the average of the other western region states.
The huge change with California’s average retail electricity price now more than double that of the other 10 western states average retail electricity price has negatively impacted and been economically damaging to California with this outcome occurring because of the Democrats incompetently crafted energy and climate policy legislation.
Given the extraordinary growth of California’s average retail electricity prices over the 1999 to 2021 period versus the much lower growth in these prices that occurred in the rest of the nation, including all of California’s contiguous western region states, the Democrats in the California legislature should be required to justify and be held accountable by the state’s voters for why and how these economically damaging extremely high electricity price increases were instigated and allowed to occur under their watch.
These huge California electricity price increases have had no meaningful impact on reducing global fossil fuel use or global emissions reductions nor have they had any impact on changing global energy and emissions policy actions of the world’s developing nations that dominate and control global energy use and emissions outcomes.
Go idiotic woke, go broke big time, the dysfunctional California way
California is loosing long term, tax paying residents at 500,000 per year and replacing them with illegal folks walking penniless, unskilled, inexperienced, unvetted, from wherever, across Biden in the basement open borders, which is nothing but high treason
The California commission on Reparations just voted to give $1.2 million in payments to blacks living in the state.
If this becomes law, look for the oozing wound of residents leaving the state to become an arterial gusher….
But amazingly, Gruesome has stated that he will not back it.
An indication that he may have two active brain cells.
“Incompetently crafted”? I would suggest this is a feature, not a bug.
They want high prices.
On average, over 50% of your monthly electric bill is paying the Taxes of the electric utility. This is part of the operating cost of an Electric Utility and needed to pay the states property tax levied on every power plant, Power pole, transmission line pole, mile of transmission line, communications tower, truck, car, building, and every thing in those buildings. Even unused equipment, plants and facilities unless returned to a grass plot. Along with the taxes paid on any profit they may make
Bingo! And do not forget taxes on fuel.
Califonia imports about a third of their power and natural gas to make the electricity in state.
The wind farm near me pays local taxes and provides local jobs while sucking money out of Cali.
I have a meter in oil and gas rich south. I pay $8 when I use no power. I have a meter in the PNW where I pay $44. It is not just power but other utility services.
Califonia has huge natural gas reserves off the coast but drilling is banned.
Thirty years I was driven out of Califonia by anti business policies. Climate is just the latest excuse.
If you’d held real estate bought at 30 years-ago prices… $44/mo for an unused meter would not matter.
Quebec Hydro publishes a detailed annual report. New one soon. Page 22 are the droids you’re looking for….
That company is uniquely position – if I had one o the worlds biggest bluetooth headsets I’d also publish my bluetooth headset stats.
At one time big name soda companies loved upstate NY for imported Canadian electricity for aluminum smelting for cans.
We can only assume California voters are comfortable with this situation; they unrelentingly elected that 25 years worth of policy-makers. If they need to see who is to blame for the high electricity prices, I’m sure every household has at least one mirror.
I remember analyzing the baffling state of Ivanpah economics a couple of years ago and posting the results in comments on this site. The price situation outlined in this article verifies the conclusion that acting on unrealistic fantasy rather than proven technology can be costly. The Crescent Dunes economics are equally baffling.
Now I wonder–just how many EV owners living in towns bordering Oregon, Nevada and Arizona drive across state lines to recharge? Anyone with an ICE powered car will certainly do so if gasoline is half the price just across the border.
What are you smoking?
California, Arizona, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, etc., have among the most corrupt election systems. Senile Biden in the basement, easily controlled by there extremist US destruction posse, was credited with 81 million “BALLOTS” of dubious origin, not votes.
The corruption of the Election of 2020 will be chickenfeed, compared what will be happening in 2024, as it will be existential for the Department State.
Los Angeles County has truly remarkable voter registration rates, at over 100% of eligible voters. Some of those votes in California may have been by real, living, eligible persons.
My uncle lived in Orange County and never voted Democrat until he died. Then he switched parties and had his ballot harvested ever since.
Would making a SS check cashed within the election year fight fraud or encourage it?
If they need to see who is to blame for the high electricity prices, I’m sure every household has at least one mirror.
They are incapable of making the connection between their voting habits and consequences like this, as evidenced by their continuing to vote the same way after moving to another state.
For other dummies like me:
“The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System is a concentrated solar thermal plant in the Mojave Desert.”
I bet there is a significant relationship between the prices in the first table and the fuel mix that resulted in those prices. And it would be a lot more significant, but for the fact that even the kookiest states may benefit from lower-cost generation in more rational neighboring states. For example, progressives in NJ benefit from their state’s’ inclusion in PJM (PA-NY-MD-IL-VA), since PA actually has a working coal fleet. Unfortunately, up here in New England, all of the member states of ISO-New England are certifiably nuts.
I heard the same in Northern Europe. Many in Europe and North America are not aware that some of their electricity is imported.
I see that Massachusetts is only slightly behind CA and more than NY. MA is also totally dominated by the Demon-crats. It’s so bad here- I recently emailed the state Republican Party asking for its energy policies. Got no reply. I then emailed the state’s Libertarian policy asking the same question- the reply was “we believe in limited state government”. Duh!
‘I recently emailed the state Republican Party…’
Well, at least you didn’t get a ‘404’ error.
I keep hoping to find any sort of organization or political party in MA that will resist the net zero scam- but alas, there isn’t one.
The table says Arizona’s average retail price is 10.73 cents per kWh. I live in Pima County and am served by Tucson Electric Power. My total cost/kWh this past billing period was 16.21 cents/kWh. That’s considerably more than 10.73 cents/kWh.
That’s logical. ”Average” means that half of Arizona’s retail prices for electricity are higher than 10.73 – and half are lower.
Here is how EPA collects the data:
I’m an old, retired electrical engineer who graduated during the middle of the last century. I know full well what average means and I know there are add-ons for all kinds of things. My brief point was that the “Average retail price (cents/kWh)” on the chart is misleadingly low. My retail price per kWh includes all the BS the politicians decide to include, and it’s much higher than the chart figures.
An aside: I worked 33 years in the power industry; 3 years in fossil fuel plants, and 30 years in and around nuclear, with responsibilities for hydro, gas/oil peakers, and transmission substations, so I’m familiar with generation, the grid, etc. I’m older than Biden, but have a mostly working brain.
I wondered about that. In some electricity markets they go to great lengths to distinguish between “cost of supply” (what each kWh costs you to use, including profit) and “everything else” (transmission, distribution, line losses, taxes, regulatory charges, “green” subsidy fees, paying off the debts of the previous incompetent utility management, etc. etc.) Some of these “everything else” are charged by the kWh and some aren’t. So it’s not clear what “Retail cost of electricity” means here. If they are including the “everything else”, the actual cost to each customer will still vary depending on how much electricity you actually use, time of day, phase of the moon, etc. Here in Ontario I am paying 15 (Canadian) cents/kWh all in, whereas the wholesale cost of (coal or hydro) generation is about 3 cents. The rest is profit, transmission/distribution, taxes, and “regulatory charges”. (Oddly there is a subsidy in here too, which brings it down from 16.6 cents to 15, presumably to keep the government from being lynched outright.)
Regarding the “everything else” you mention – here the term is “facility charge”.
I’m in a Public Utility District (PUD) in Kittitas County, Washington.
My service: Residential — 1 Phase, 120/240 Volt, 320 Amp and smaller
My costs are:
Facility Charge: $32/ month
Energy Delivered: $0.0982 / kwh
1 Phase? Slow clothes dryer.
Don’t forget “Readiness to serve” charge, “Franchise fee”, “Distribution fee” “Local tax” and all the other excuses they can think up.
Exactly. The table is misleading as the actual cost to the household is much higher and includes all sorts of add-on charges. The correct way to calculate is to take the the dollar amount on the monthly bill divided by the monthly kWh. We moved from CT 2 years ago where using the correct method we were paying slightly over 24censt/kWh. Now in FL our cost is about 14cents/kWh. In terms of dollar amounts, the monthly CT bill averaged over the year (seasonal variation) about $200 for 3000ft2 house. In FL it’s been a consistent $80 for a 2600 ft2 house.
Forget about price of your electricity, better check weight limits on your lightweight traffic bridges.
“Sheer weight of electric vehicles could sink our bridges
Councils receive notice that EVs are 33 per cent heavier than petrol vehicles – and 1 in 20 bridges are ‘substandard’.”
With many fewer vehicles on the roads in thirty years time, it may not be a problem for most bridges in the UK. General deterioration of all road surfaces from fewer but significantly overweight cargo transport vehicles relative to current roadway design standards is another matter.
It’s probably worse than these averages depict because California benefits from Bonneville Power. That benefit dates back to a bygone era of infrastructure development for rational industry development and cost savings to families and businesses. If you considered the incremental cost of bad energy policy, the loss rate to higher.
There are both AC and DC lines to CA from the Bonneville Power export site in Oregon near the once famous Cililo Falls of the Columbia River.
The search term “Path 66” will get the Wiki page.
Increasing utility cost don’t affect rich California liberals all that much. So they pay maybe $1,000 more in their electric bill than the most of the country, they don’t care. California’s poor people is a different story and as we all know liberals really don’t care about poor people.
It’s more than that. 33% of Californians are on welfare. If you receive any subsidy at all, you automatically qualify for the statewide CARE program, which is more welfare for electric and gas rates for poor people.
“Poor people” are the hard-working suckers who saved as much as they could to provide for themselves in retirement.
Those fools sacrificed all their lives living within their means, not burdening the rest of society in the least but subsidizing the Demonratic clientele. Now in retirement they can eat or heat as they continue to subsidize the Tesla owners across town.
Voting will not be the solution to this. Things won’t get better until the criminals in Sacramento are dragged from their offices and tarred and feathered.
Don’t write stuff like this. You’ll only get yourself in trouble, or worse you’ll drag the innocent into it.
Absolutely right! Tar is known to the State of California to cause cancer and reproductive harm!
Neighboring states are not exactly out of the woods. They still have to plan on where to get the water for all the refugees from CA and how to deal with regional inflation from the influx. And then there is the matter of unequal treatment in the Colorado River allotments with special political and legal advantage given to CA. Concentrating the effects on ID, NV, MT, and AZ is worse when leadership in Salem and Olympia is also deranged.
All of the states and provinces attached to the Western Interconnection are at risk from what is happening in Sacramento, in Salem, and in Olympia with Net Zero; and from what is happening nationally with Net Zero.
The Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC) is charted by NERC to manage electricity reliability for the Western Interconnection.
Here in the US Northwest, the Northwest Power and Conservation Council (NPCC) does reliability planning for the states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana.
The NPCC is supervised by WECC, which in turn is charted by NERC. However, both the NPCC and the WECC are funded and controlled by the region’s politicians, which are mostly on board with Net Zero.
Both regional councils, WECC and NPCC, are under under heavy duty pressure from regional politicians to support the Net Zero transition.
That their work products generally play up the alleged benefits of Net Zero and generally downplay the risks is therefore no real surprise.
Not your fault… but the implied redundancy is painful.
California, the gift that keeps on taking.
You missed the “r”.
The really sad part is that California’s electricity price is now only 33% below Hawaii’s. Why is that sad? Hawaii still generates most of its electricity from literal oil with some bit more from coal – both shipped in from elsewhere.
And no, Hawaii’s increasing solar PV installations aren’t helping: Hawaii Electric’s own data shows On-Peak pricing in April 2023 was $0.581 per kWh vs. April 2019 price of $0.474 per kWh: https://www.hawaiianelectric.com/products-and-services/save-energy-and-money/shift-and-save/time-of-use-rate-history
And yes, Hawaii is seeing oversupply issues from wind and solar PV – in their case, they are solving it by simply not buying wind electricity in the daytime.
Mr. Layman here.
It would seem like Hawaii would be able to tap into geothermal like Iceland.
Is there a reason they haven’t?
They did; the Puna geothermal plant. A volcano buried it.
Geothermal is like solar PV: everywhere but there are even fewer “optimal” sites.
Yes, Hawaii has active volcanoes but that doesn’t mean there are lots of optimal geothermal sites of sufficient size, accessibility and stability.
> “During the last 25 years (the period inclusive of 1999 to 2023) Democrats have controlled the legislature of the State of California and adopted ineffective, misguided and economically damaging energy and climate legislation…”
I fail to see why you limit the damaging, ineffective and misguided policies of California’s single party state to just energy and climate.
Ever buy, say, a plumbing fixture or almost anything else in North America that doesn’t have a warning along the lines of “The State of California has determined that (fill in the blank) causes (fill in the blank)”? Or that it complies with something or other California regulation?
For over 25 years the California EPA has been our current US EPA on steroids!
(How many settlements for chemicals have come out of California courts?)
Tabasco won’t ship their color cards to California because of that warning.
Coffee is listed under Prop 65 as a carcinogen. I don’t understand why Starbucks flourishes there when they have to carry that warning.
GC: the topic was energy and climate not open political battling. Discipline has held out well halfway down the thread.
The legislature is the lesser of the problem.
The main problem is the CARB – California Air Resource Board. CARB created the “EV credits” that underlie Tesla as a company. CARB mandates different California gasoline than anywhere else thus ensuring California has the highest gasoline prices of the Lower 48. CARB set the precedent for Net Zero nonsense via banning ICE engines, and now they’re expanding to all VOC – volatile organic compounds meaning they now set rules for farming cosmetics, chemicals, pretty much anything you can imagine because a VOC means any compound containing carbon.
The California legislature at least is voted in; CARB is pure deep state bureaucracy.
A test to see if you know how deep the dysfunction runs in Kalifornia Electricity Politiks.
Did you know a line item charge on your residential bill is to compensate the utility companies for the lost profits from nuclear plants that were not built because the State canceled them?
“Incredibly, California’s year 2021 average retail electricity price has now grown to be 214% greater than the average of the other 10 western continental U.S. states.”
No, it is not 214% greater. It is just over 100% greater. You could have said it is 214% of the average which would be true, but you did not.
Nick, you spelled your name wrong.
Denis knows math
California. 10% when you earn it, 10% when you spend it. A double Whopper with cheese meal in the drive through is now $18, not counting the $5.00 per gallon gas it took to get you there. But don’t worry, the Burger King career is now SEIU unionized along with Starbucks coffee pourers and they are going on strike to get “better” working conditions…
How can this be? Hasn’t Nick been assuring us that wind and solar are the cheapest forms of power?
They are cheap.
And they get what we paid for.
I am glad California is paying a high price for their stupidity, they deserve it. I see California as cowards, liars and cheats, if they were true believers they would not import electricity generated by fossil fuels, nuclear or hydro. They would not import fossil fuels from out of state or out of country. I have no respect for these people, they deserve to pay much higher rates for their power than they do now.
California has taken a 97 BILLION dollar surplus and turned it into a 25 BILLION dollar deficit in one year. That’s 122 BILLION spent in one year. Did I mention that California duplicates all the Federal agencies functions? It’s true. Name any federal agency and California has one at a state level too. It is expensive to hire people to put checkmarks on forms.
It is not only California.
In Europe, the two countries with the highest renewable penetration also have the highest (by far) electricity rates—Denmark and Germany. So high that the Greens now want Germany industrial electricity heavily subsidized so that industry doesn’t leave and collapse the economy—which would then be blamed on the Greens. Only little difficulty for the Greens is, Germany cannot afford that much industrial electricity subsidy.
“in the Continental U.S” Hawaii ruins by-state statistics, but any sarcasm in tone is jealousy-induced. So long as cars have AC… beautiful.
The article is written with heavy a R vs D theme. Assuming nobody is changing anybody else’s mind, any D’s bailed early, enabling R’s to crowd a comment thread to laugh with each other and retell the same old jokes.
“Why did the D cross the Internet?”
“They didn’t, they stayed on their own side. their own side. side. side.”
OUCH! Basic math FAIL! Kind of embarrassing
The increase is the difference between what it is and what it was. Dividing that difference by the original value and multiplying by 100 gives you the percentage increase:
((19.65-8.75)/8.75)x100 = 125% INCREASE
Not (19.65/8.75)x100 = 225%
The cost of the lawsuit settlements for all of the PG&E caused forest fires in the last few years has been passed down to all of it’s consumers. I am on the tier system and now pay $0.37-0.42/kWh. The USFS has filed suit against PG&E for last year’s Mosquito Fire so I’ll look forward to another rate increase from that.
There have been some confusing comments about the EIA price data which show some of the readers here don’t understand what the EIA data represents. The average retail electric price is not a “rate” but reflects data collected for each state based on accumulating the total sales (kilowatt hours) and total revenue (dollars) for each state. The revenues reflect the total billing revenue dollars that are billed for all customer classes by all electric service providers within each state. Additional information and data regarding how EIA establishes the average retail electricity price is available at https://www.eia.gov/electricity/sales_revenue_price/.
Corrections to my WUWT article:
The paragraph noting the change in California’s average retail electricity price from 8.75 cents per kilowatt hour in 1999 to 19.65 cents per kilowatt hour in 2021 should be:
“California’s ill-conceived energy and climate Democrat driven legislative schemes have resulted in California’s 2021 average retail electricity price now becoming, for the first time ever, the highest in the continental United States at 19.65 cents per kilowatt hour having grown 224.6% since the 1999 price of 8.75 cents per kilowatt hour.”
The paragraph noting the change in California’s average retail electricity price compared to the western U.S. average retail electricity price should be:
“Incredibly, California’s year 2021 average retail electricity price has now grown to be 214% of the average of the other 10 western continental U.S. states.”
Thanks for the comments.
There have been some confusing comments about the EIA price data which show some of the readers here don’t understand what the EIA data represents. The average retail electric price is not a “rate” but reflects data collected for each state based on accumulating the total sales (kilowatt hours) and total revenue (dollars) for each state. The revenues reflect the total billing revenue dollars for all customer classes by all electric service providers within each state. The EIA data represents a comprehensive apples to apples comparison of the average retail price of electricity services between each state and across the U.S.
Additional information and data regarding how EIA establishes the average retail electricity price is available here.
California’s Anti-Energy Mandates Catch Up To Consumers This Winter
“for the first time ever, the highest in the continental United States at 19.65 cents per kilowatt hour with an increase in price of 224.6% since the 1999 value of 8.75 cents per kilowatt hour.”
“Incredibly, California’s year 2021 average retail electricity price has now grown to be 214% greater than the average of the other 10 western continental U.S. states.”
“The huge change amounting to nearly a factor of 3 growth in the average retail electricity price difference between California and the 10 other western states over this period has negatively impacted and been economically damaging to California with this outcome occurring because of the Democrats incompetently crafted energy and climate policy legislation.“
For the sake of accuracy and to maintain credibility the above statements should be recognized as incorrect and numerical exaggerations. From 8.75 to 19.65 is a growth of 124% not 224%. Yes it reflects the prior price was multiplied by of 2.24 in the interval but the growth is 124%.
The comparison to other Western states is similarly misstated. The California rate was correctly stated as 72% (8.75 vs 5.08 cents) higher than the average of the other Western states in 1999 and the difference grew to 114% (19.65 vs. 9.19 cents) in 2021, not the stated 214% growth. The increase in the difference between the comparators is an increase by a factor of 1.58 or a 58% increase over the baseline year (114 vs. 72%).
None of this is meant to refute the main message that California has an energy policy that was conceived, baked and sold by idiots, charlatans or both, and which will destroy the state’s economy and standard of living.
Thanks for the comments. I have made corrections and added information to address the EIA distinction between “rates” and “price.”
Based on all comments received regarding discussion of various percentages in my article the following paragraphs are changed as follows reflecting these comments:
“California’s ill-conceived energy and climate Democrat driven legislative schemes have resulted in California’s 2021 average retail electricity price now becoming, for the first time ever, the highest in the continental United States at 19.65 cents per kilowatt hour having grown by a factor of 2.246 (124.6%) since the 1999 average price of 8.75 cents per kilowatt hour.
During the 1999 to 2021 period EIA data shows that the average retail electricity price for the U.S. grew by 4.46 cents per kilowatt hour (from 6.64 cents per kilowatt hour in 1999 to 11.10 cents per kilowatt hour in 2021) while California’s average retail electricity price climbing by 10.9 cents per kilowatt hour (19.65 versus 8.75) more than twice the U.S. average retail electricity price increase.”
“Incredibly, California’s year 2021 average retail electricity price is now a factor of 2.14 (114%) greater than the average of the other 10 western continental U.S. states.”
“The huge change with California’s average retail electricity price now more than double that of the other 10 western states average retail electricity price has negatively impacted and been economically damaging to California with this outcome occurring because of the Democrats incompetently crafted energy and climate policy legislation.”
Thanks again for those who took the time to review and comment.
After 62 years my wife and I fled CA in December for Idaho. In Southern California, I paid 15-30 cents a KW on a TOU rate plan through So Cal Edison, and had ridiculous electricity bills in the summer. My bill so far in ID are average $56 a month. What a difference from the $300-$800 a month we were paying.