PUF's Where's Energy

Rate Runup Moderating

February’s Consumer Price Index for electricity was up 12.9 percent year-over-year. March’s CPI for electricity was up by less, 10.2 percent year-over-year.

And now April’s CPI for electricity is in. April’s was up by even less, 8.4 percent year-over-year.

This is the clearest sign yet that the runup in residential electric rates is moderating. It was a little rough there for a while. Driven by the abrupt rise in natural gas prices in the spring and summer of last year from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Penny on the Dollar

Californians’ residential electric bills averaged just nine-tenths of one percent of all their expenditures on goods and services in the year 2021. 0.91 percent to be precise. Significantly less than a penny on the dollar.

This according to the data used by the U.S. Commerce Department to calculate the Gross Domestic Product.

California’s average was well below the national average, 1.26 percent. Per kilowatt-hour rates are high in California, as compared to other states, but kilowatt-hour consumption is low.

Electric Bills Vary

Eighteen thousand and five hundred households responded to the U.S. Department of Energy’s extraordinarily comprehensive 2020 Residential Energy Consumption Survey. Some of the results just made available on residential electric bills I find most interesting:

Residential electric bills vary significantly by region. No surprise that the average in the sunny south is the highest, at $129 monthly. And that the average in the whopping west is the lowest, at $101 monthly. The midwest and northeast averages are in the middle, at $108 and $112 monthly, respectively.

Gas is Ubiquitous

88 percent of California homes use natural gas. That according to the extraordinarily comprehensive Residential Energy Consumption Survey that the U.S. Department of Energy conducted in 2020.

88 percent is a lot. It means that only about one in eight homes in the Golden State do not use natural gas.

In New York, the percentage of homes that use natural gas is 78 percent. That’s lower than in California. But it’s still real high.

Santa Fe Grill

Thirty-four of the nation’s two hundred and three state utility Commissioners. All part of the Commissioners’ Grill, the extraordinary two-and-a-half-hour session that concludes the conference. Current Issues 2023 that is, New Mexico State University’s Center for Public Utilities annual meeting next month in Santa Fe.

Anyone who has ever attended this NMSU event over the years knows there’s nothing like it. Over serious and light-hearted conversations too about utility regulation, you really get to know your colleagues in the service of the public interest.

On the Front Line in Ukraine

Ukraine’s energy security was the topic of the first 2023 online talk by DTEK CEO Maxim Timchenko, on January 25. And Public Utilities Fortnightly’s Editor-in-Chief Lori Burkhart covered it.

DTEK is the largest private investor in Ukraine’s energy sector. As of this discussion, one hundred thirty-three of DTEK’s employees have died, twenty-four are missing, four are in captivity, and three hundred twenty-two have been wounded. Despite that heavy toll, Timchenko is determined to keep the lights on, and looks ahead to rebuilding Ukraine’s energy future.