On April 1, the WV PSC issued yet another press release touting WV’s relatively low electric rates. The PSC and the WV Consumer Advocate (and the WV coal industry) love to crow about WV’s low rates, but they are looking at the wrong number.
While WV has the sixth lowest residential electric rate in the US, the US Dept. of Energy’s report on average residential electric bills tells a different story. In average monthly residential electric bills, WV ranks 29 from the lowest. The table below is for 2012, because that is the Energy Information Administration’s most recent calculation.
|2012 Average Monthly Bill- Residential|
|(Data from forms EIA-861- schedules 4A-D, EIA-861S and EIA-861U)|
|State||Number of Customers||Average Monthly Consumption (kWh)||Average Price (cents/kWh)||Average Monthly Bill (Dollar and cents)|
|District of Columbia||231,550||721||12.28||88.51|
So why, if WV’s rates are so low, are WV’s electric bills so high? There is a simple reason. Take a look at Massachusetts, with residential electric rates 50% higher than WV’s. The average residential electric bill in Massachusetts is only $93.53, in large part because Massachusetts legislators, regulators and power companies have created one of the best energy efficiency programs in the US. Vermont’s average residential rate is over .17 per kwh, but the state’s average monthly electric bill is more than ten dollars less than WV’s. Vermont has one of the best energy efficiency programs in the US.
WV has a lot of poor and working people who cannot afford high electric bills, but that is exactly what our state’s failed leadership has created.
So the next time you hear the PSC bragging about WV’s low electric rates, remember one thing – We don’t pay electric rates, out here in the real world, we pay electric bills.
It is disgraceful that WV media outlets, including my good friends at the Hur Herald, as well as the major news outlets like the Charleston Gazette, uncritically xeroxed the PSC’s press release without digging deeper into this story. Perhaps if WV media outlets had editors who encouraged real reporting on electricity issues in our state, legislators and regulators would do their jobs and create an electrical system that works for citizens of WV, instead of the two Ohio-based holding companies that provide almost all the electricity in WV.