California’s outrageous cost of electricity

Richard Rider, Chairman, San Diego Tax Fighters Richard Rider, Chairman, San Diego Tax Fighters Leave a Comment


While I’m not yet adding this electricity cost analysis to my “Breaking Bad” fact-sheet (hard to condense), it’s a situation my California readers need to know about. Our residential electricity rates are often outrageous compared to the rest of the nation. And, to get to the bottom line, under AB32, these lofty rates are predicted to go up ANOTHER 30% or more — while other states don’t chose to commit the same economic suicide.

BTW, our state’s industrial electricity rates are even higher compared to other states — 44.6% higher than than the national average as of December, 2009 –  But this article will dwell on the cost of electricity for our homes.

For comparison purposes, I’m ranking homes with an average monthly usage of 1,000 kilowatt hours (kWh). I suspect that usage level may be above average for a California home (we “coasters” have less heating and cooling costs than average), but it’s the benchmark used by utilities to compare rates. And it’s about what we use in my home (actually we are at about 1,100 kWh, even with florescent everything).

Pricing of electricity is tricky, and is something most people simply can’t or don’t figure out. There’s electricity cost, distribution cost (based on electricity usage), lots of taxes taxes and — most important — there’s usually tiers of usage. The more you use, the higher the tier, and the higher the cost of each tier.

Fortunately, Jacksonville Electric (JEA) posts a continuously updated comparison of itself with 54 other utilities around the nation, based on 1,000 monthly kWh residential usage. Unfortunately the JEA comparison does not include all the utilities, but it’s good enough for our purposes.

The most expensive utility in the nation (according to JEA) is some dinky outfit in Fairbanks, Alaska, charging $199.73. Number two? Why, San Diego Gas & Electric! SDG&E charges $181.62. Third is a NJ utility charging $163.54. There are 55 utilities in their chart — private and public operations. To give you a feeling for the range of prices, the lowest five utilities average $74.48.

Missing from the JEA comparison is our state’s huge Pacific Gas & Electric. Fortunately an analyst has figured PG&E’s rates for 1,000 kWh usage — at least in Fresno.

Move over, Fairbanks! There’s a new #1 cost utility. PG&E rates are highest by far, at $241.93 — about a third higher than our local expensive SDG&E.

Other utilities in CA charge less than SDG&E and PG&E, but still well above the national average. There are many factors in such comparisons, and I doubt these figures I present are without some error. For instance, do they accurately handle the taxes? And remember, utility taxes can vary by municipality or county.

Still, you get my drift. For whatever reasons, electricity costs a boodle in California, and sadly that is yet another reason for individuals and companies to locate outside our fair state.


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