Conserving energy only will go so far to lower your electric bill if you live in Hawaii, Alaska, Connecticut, New York, or Rhode Island – which were pigeonholed as the U.S. states with the highest electricity rates (at numbers 1-5, respectively) in rankings released on September 28 by ElectricChoice.com, a guide to the retail electric marketplace provided by Eisenbach Consulting of Tyler, Texas.
While these numbers are from 2014 and are simply averages, they still paint a pretty clear picture of the places where ratepayers are burning money when they turn on the lights. Costs range from a high of 33.53 cents/kWh in Hawaii to a low of 7.16 cents/kWh in Washington State.
Bargain hunters also might want to consider West Virginia (7.65 cents/kWh), Wyoming (7.78 cents/kWh), Arkansas (7.85 cents/kWh), or Idaho (7.95 cents/kWh) – the other four states that rank the lowest on the list.
And if you are wondering where the New England states – which usually get a bad rap for energy costs – are placed, Massachusetts comes in at number 6 (15.34 cents/kWh); New Hampshire, at number 7 (15.25 cents/kWh); Vermont, at 9 (14.58 cents/kWh; and Maine, at 11 (12.66 cents/kWh).
Interestingly enough, renewable energy leader California is ranked at number 8, with costs at 15.23 cents/kWh. That may look like worse news than it actually is: With its statewide energy conservation programs and mild climate, California has the second lowest per capita energy consumption rates in the country, with the average home in the state using less than the national average of 6.9 megawatts (MW) per year. The state also produces more geothermal energy than any other state and is in the top five producers of hydroelectric generation and energy from other renewable resources.
The top five states, as described by ElectricChoice.com are listed below. To find the others, check the website.
- Hawaii – 33.53 cents/kWh: Year in and year out, customers in the isolated Hawaiian Islands pay the most expensive energy rates nationwide. However, with its mild, tropical, Hawaii is consistently in the top five lowest states for overall energy consumption. The state is also one of eight states with geothermal capacity. While costly petroleum is still the main source of electricity in Hawaii, the state is starting to rely more on this renewable resource and on solar. It should come as no surprise that residents in Hawaii, despite their low energy consumption rates still spend the most of any other state on their monthly bills.
- Alaska – 17.58 cents/kWh: Like Hawaii, most of Alaska’s electricity is generated from petroleum liquids. It is also one of the only states that has harnessed the power of geothermal energy sources to create renewable energy. The fees are still costly and most Alaskans still rely primarily on diesel powered electric generators for their home power source.
- Connecticut – 16.98 cents/kWh: Electricity in Connecticut is the most expensive in the northeast. Nearly half of the state’s electricity in 2014 came from the Millstone nuclear. The state has a goal of obtaining 23% of their electricity from renewable resources by 2020, but as of 2014 only 3.5% of their electricity was from renewable sources.
- New York – 16.25 cents/kWh: In 2014, New York produced more hydroelectric power than any other state east of the Rocky Mountains. This was thanks to the 2,535 megawatt Robert Moses Niagara hydroelectric power plant within the state. The state also has plans to install 3,000 megawatts of solar photovoltaic facilities by 2023. Individuals living in the state may pay a great deal for electricity, but only 20% of residents have central air conditioning systems in their homes.
- Rhode Island – 15.57 cents/kW: Rhode Island is one of two states in the country that does not have coal-fired electricity generation, this also makes Rhode Island the second lowest carbon dioxide emitter in the country. Approximately 95% of the state’s electricity generation in 2014 came from natural gas. The state is in the process of creating the first off-shore wind generation facility in the country, which is expected to open in 2016.