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States with the least expensive electricity

  • States with the least expensive electricity

    Whether it's heating homes, charging cell phones or powering cars, electricity is an important resource used by nearly every home in the United States. The average American household uses about 10,399 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

    Coal was once the primary source of energy for electricity, but as concern over greenhouse gas emissions has intensified, coal use has waned and states across the country have started looking at alternative sources of power. Many states have implemented a Renewable Energy Standard, or RES, in which utility companies are required to source a portion of their energy from renewable resources, such as solar and wind power. Policies vary from state to state and can include mandates to increase renewable usage by 20% in 10 years or to allow non-renewables that are still low polluting, such as natural gas. More than half the states have created some kind of RES, intending to keep costs low for utility companies and consumers, while also creating new solar farms, wind turbines, and hydroelectric facilities.

    Wind and solar power have traditionally been more expensive than older power plants, but innovations in technology, along with marketing incentives, have lowered costs in recent years and today's wind farms can generate electricity for less than five cents per kilowatt-hour.

    The cost of electricity also can vary widely from state to state and several factors influence prices. This includes power plant and distribution systems operating costs, the availability and use of low-cost hydropower, such as wind turbines, fuel costs, and individual state regulations of utility services.

    Stacker reviewed data compiled by the EIA to determine which states have the least expensive electricity costs. Data is for the year 2017 and was released Oct. 12, 2018. Ranked from highest to lowest, using an average price per kilowatt-hour, with any ties broken by average residential price, look at where each of the 50 states falls regarding electricity costs.

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  • #51. Hawaii

    - Average price per kilowatt-hour: 26.05 cents (148.6% higher than national average)
    --- Average residential price: 29.50 cents (128.9% higher than national average)
    --- Average commercial price: 26.77 cents (151.1% higher than national average)
    --- Average industrial price: 22.92 cents (233.1% higher than national average)
    --- Average transportation price: Not applicable

    Hawaii residents pay some of the highest utility bills in the country. Most of the state's electricity is produced from oil, which is not only one of the most expensive fuels used to generate electricity, it must also be shipped from the mainland, which increases the overall cost. And while solar power might seem like an obvious solution, the excess electricity generated by solar panels can overload circuits and burn up power lines. Hawaii has continued to work to improve energy costs, and according to Hawaii.gov, the state is striving for 100% renewable energy by 2045.

  • #50. Alaska

    - Average price per kilowatt-hour: 19.10 cents (82.3% higher than national average)
    --- Average residential price: 21.27 cents (65.0% higher than national average)
    --- Average commercial price: 18.89 cents (77.2% higher than national average)
    --- Average industrial price: 16.34 cents (137.5% higher than national average)
    --- Average transportation price: Not applicable

    With its huge oil and gas reserves, it seems that high electricity costs shouldn't be an issue in Alaska. But electricity in the 49th state is more than 80% higher than the national average. The state's small population and harsh winters are both factors, as well as large parcels of undeveloped land between cities that make access to power grids difficult, if not impossible.

  • #49. Connecticut

    - Average price per kilowatt-hour: 17.55 cents (67.5% higher than national average)
    --- Average residential price: 20.29 cents (57.4% higher than national average)
    --- Average commercial price: 16.06 cents (50.7% higher than national average)
    --- Average industrial price: 13.10 cents (90.4% higher than national average)
    --- Average transportation price: 10.95 cents (13.1% higher than national average)

    Connecticut has the highest electricity rates in the continental United States, primarily because of its dependence on natural gas, which is one of the most expensive fuels used to generate electricity. The state has strict air quality standards that limit the use of coal, and fuel must be transported from other locations as there are no natural gas reserves or underground natural gas storage facilities.

  • #48. Massachusetts

    - Average price per kilowatt-hour: 17.12 cents (63.4% higher than national average)
    --- Average residential price: 20.06 cents (55.6% higher than national average)
    --- Average commercial price: 15.94 cents (49.5% higher than national average)
    --- Average industrial price: 13.88 cents (101.7% higher than national average)
    --- Average transportation price: 6.22 cents (35.7% lower than national average)

    Electricity in Massachusetts is more than 63% higher than the national average, which is partly because it has to import fossil fuels and has limited natural resources. The climate is not conducive to using solar or wind power, and pipeline development hasn't kept up with the growing energy needs of the region.

  • #47. Rhode Island

    - Average price per kilowatt-hour: 16.42 cents (56.7% higher than national average)
    --- Average residential price: 18.32 cents (42.1% higher than national average)
    --- Average commercial price: 15.20 cents (42.6% higher than national average)
    --- Average industrial price: 14.57 cents (111.8% higher than national average)
    --- Average transportation price: 17.08 cents (76.4% higher than national average)

    It might be the smallest state in the country, but Rhode Island has some of the biggest electricity bills. Residents pay over 16 cents per kilowatt-hour, which is over 56% higher than the national average. Like other New England states, the region's dependence on imported natural gas is a big contributor to the cost, along with a lack of other resources. The state's Public Utility Commission recently approved an initiative to better maintain utility lines, and to make the state's power grid more accommodating for renewables.

  • #46. New Hampshire

    - Average price per kilowatt-hour: 16.17 cents (54.3% higher than national average)
    --- Average residential price: 19.20 cents (49.0% higher than national average)
    --- Average commercial price: 14.81 cents (38.9% higher than national average)
    --- Average industrial price: 12.34 cents (79.4% higher than national average)
    --- Average transportation price: Not applicable

    New Hampshire's electricity costs are about 16 cents per kilowatt-hour, putting it at just over 53% higher than the rest of the country, while still being lower than most neighboring states. Transportation and distribution costs are factors, as well as restrictions on the use of coal, which is less expensive but also less environmentally friendly.

  • #45. California

    - Average price per kilowatt-hour: 16.06 cents (53.2% higher than national average)
    --- Average residential price: 18.31 cents (42% higher than national average)
    --- Average commercial price: 15.76 cents (47.8% higher than national average)
    --- Average industrial price: 12.73 cents (85% higher than national average)
    --- Average transportation price: 8.68 cents (10.3% lower than national average)

    Despite having electricity costs that are over 53% higher than other parts of the United States, the state of California generates more electricity than it needs. The higher costs of power are considered to be partly because of a focus on developing renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power, both of which are expensive to maintain and manage.

  • #44. New York

    - Average price per kilowatt-hour: 14.74 cents (40.6% higher than national average)
    --- Average residential price: 18.03 cents (39.9% higher than national average)
    --- Average commercial price: 14.75 cents (38.4% higher than national average)
    --- Average industrial price: 5.92 cents (14% lower than national average)
    --- Average transportation price: 12.67 cents (30.9% higher than national average)

    Residents of New York pay an average of 14.74 cents per kilowatt-hour for electricity, which is about 40% higher than the national average. Most of New York's power comes from privately owned power plants. The plants that produce natural gas generate nearly half of the usable electricity, followed by hydroelectric facilities, which produce about 19%.

  • #43. Vermont

    - Average price per kilowatt-hour: 14.60 cents (39.3% higher than national average)
    --- Average residential price: 17.68 cents (37.2% higher than national average)
    --- Average commercial price: 14.61 cents (37.1% higher than national average)
    --- Average industrial price: 10.21 cents (48.4% higher than national average)
    --- Average transportation price: Not applicable

    Vermont, whose average kilowatt-hour price is over 39% higher than the national average, produces about 40% of the electricity it uses. It depends on power from neighboring states and Canadian hydro dams for the rest. Vermont enacted an integrated renewable energy standard in 2015, with the goal of having 75% of its energy coming from renewable sources by 2032.

  • #42. New Jersey

    - Average price per kilowatt-hour: 13.32 cents (27.1% higher than national average)
    --- Average residential price: 15.65 cents (21.4% higher than national average)
    --- Average commercial price: 12.28 cents (15.2% higher than national average)
    --- Average industrial price: 10.12 cents (47.1% higher than national average)
    --- Average transportation price: 8.81 cents (9% lower than national average)

    New Jersey generates most of its electricity via natural gas power plants and nuclear power stations. The state's costly utilities stem in part from increased expenses in trying to comply with state mandates on renewable energy, as well as subsidies paid to the remaining nuclear plants, which have faced the possibility of closure in recent years. The nuclear plants provide 40% of the state's electricity with minimal emissions.

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