National Electric Rate Comparisons

Where can I find local and national electrical rate statistics? Specifically, I’m interested in the figures for average annual rate increases to help calculate the payback on renewable energy systems. Is anyone collecting this information? — Alana N., Mount Vernon, WA

Rising energy rates are now a commonly-accepted fact of life, but when I used to make speeches a dozen years ago that these increases would likely happen, it generated knowing snickers or vehement responses of incredulity.

Please remember that electric rates are regulated by state Public Utility Commissions, so each state is different as is each utility service area. There are also regional differences in rates due to age and length of electric transmission and distribution lines and natural gas pipelines.

Electric rates are also expressed differently, with some rates being bundled, while others resemble your cell phone bills with varied rates expressed as demand charges, peak power rates, time-of-day rates, and ratchet rates. There are entities that track these changes, but most are tied to regulatory or commercial clients.

The Energy Information Administration, an autonomous entity within the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) does provide some information, and their chart can be retrieved here.

The State of Nebraska has a great rate chart comparing state rates as of December 2007 and the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) has several detailed charts that you can access here.

And if you want a taste of what the private sector can get, you can go to Maisy.com to get hour by hour rate information achievable in 373 metropolitan areas.

Good luck on future predictions — they’ve all been wrong — but I can assure you that electric and natural gas prices will go up — and I can stand by that prediction with absolute confidence!

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Scott, founder and president of The Stella Group, Ltd., in Washington, DC, is the Chair of the Steering Committee of the Sustainable Energy Coalition and serves on the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, and The Solar Foundation. The Stella Group, Ltd., a strategic marketing and policy firm for clean distributed energy users and companies using renewable energy, energy efficiency and storage. Sklar is an Adjunct Professor at The George Washington University teaching two unique interdisciplinary courses on sustainable energy, and is an Affiliated Professor of CATIE, the graduate university based in Costa Rica. . On June 19, 2014, Scott Sklar was awarded the prestigious The Charles Greely Abbot Award by the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) and on April 26, 2014 was awarded the Green Patriot Award by George Mason University in Virginia.

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