A nationwide comparison of electric utility performance by an Illinois consumer advocacy group found that customers in states that are heavily reliant on fuel oil and natural gas, as in the Northeast and South, tend to pay more than those with larger amounts of carbon-free generation, among other findings.
The report by the Illinois-based Citizens Utility Board ranked all 50 states and the District of Columbia for utility reliability, affordability and environmental responsibility using 2020 public data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Census Bureau.
For overall performance across those categories, the top 10 were, starting with the highest ranked, Washington, Nevada, the District of Columbia, South Dakota, Illinois, Colorado, Arizona, Minnesota, Oregon and Nebraska. The bottom 10, starting with the lowest ranked, were West Virginia, Alaska, Mississippi, Massachusetts, Louisiana, Michigan, Alabama, Georgia, Indiana and Connecticut. North Carolina came in 26th.
It’s the second year in a row the group has compiled the report, which started as a way to measure how Illinois compared to other states and morphed into a project it hopes will be useful for utility regulators, electric ratepayers and state policymakers across the country, said David Kolata, the board’s executive director.
“What we’ve tried to do here is provide as full a picture as we possibly can,” he said. “We view this as a conversation starter not a conversation ender. We do think it provides a convenient and accessible way to get at this data. … Our hope is every state will improve in these categories.”
Given the wide state-by-state variance in regulatory regimes, the difference in rates between customer classes and how their bills are put together, it can be difficult to compare electric prices across state lines. Also, climate and heating and cooling differences can make apples-to-apples bill comparisons tough. Electric customers in the South, for example, tend to rely on electricity for heating in the winter and face hotter summers that require more air conditioning than in the North, where gas is more common for home heating.
“Whereas households in warmer climates may consume more electricity on an annual basis to run air conditioning units than households in colder climates, those same households will not spend as much on natural gas, propane or other heating fuels during the winter,” the report says. Other states, like Alaska and Hawaii, are expensive by virtue of their geographic isolation from the larger U.S. electric grid.
The top 10 for overall affordability — as measured by average household energy expenditures, total household electric costs as a percentage of income, electric cost per kilowatt hour, total cost electricity expenditures and cost of energy efficiency savings — were Read more