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Electricity Rates Up

Electric bills increased in the first six months of 2017, compared to 2016, fueled by rising natural gas prices.

Residential electricity rates averaged 12.8 cents a kilowatt-hour the first half of this year, up 3 percent from one year earlier, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Rising natural gas prices contributed to the rise, which took place even though a mild winter contributed to a 2.5 percent downturn in monthly electricity usage, EIA said.

Only six states saw prices decline in that period.

“The Pacific non-contiguous states of Alaska and Hawaii have the highest electricity residential prices in the nation. Hawaii's retail price averaged 23.3 cents a kilowatt-hour in the first half of 2017, and Alaska's average price was 18.1 cents, which were 9 percent and 5 percent higher, respectively, than in the same period in 2016, EIA said.

“Some of the early 2017 increase in residential electricity prices can be attributed to the rising costs of fuels used for generating power. For example, the cost of natural gas delivered to U.S. electric generators during the first half of 2017 averaged $3.53 per million British thermal units.

“This cost was 37 percent higher than in the first half of 2016, and the average delivered cost of coal was down about 2 percent.

“An additional driver for increased electricity prices has been the trend in recent years for power utilities to increase their expenditures on infrastructure for the transmission and distribution of electricity,” the EIA reported.

 

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