WV PSC Focused on Wrong Electricity Number

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)
New Mexico 859,281 656 11.37 74.62
Maine 703,770 531 14.66 77.77
Utah 966,063 793 9.93 78.70
Colorado 2,149,637 706 11.46 80.94
Montana 473,033 842 10.08 84.88
Wyoming 261,191 867 9.85 85.35
Rhode Island 435,448 597 14.40 86.04
Illinois 5,098,647 767 11.38 87.20
Idaho 673,368 1,010 8.67 87.52
California 13,101,887 573 15.34 87.91
Washington 2,852,760 1,037 8.53 88.46
District of Columbia 231,550 721 12.28 88.51
Minnesota 2,317,336 793 11.35 90.06
Wisconsin 2,609,168 703 13.19 92.79
Massachusetts 2,699,141 627 14.91 93.53
Oregon 1,642,444 957 9.80 93.80
Iowa 1,334,596 873 10.82 94.50
Michigan 4,250,620 676 14.13 95.50
Vermont 309,019 565 17.01 96.09
South Dakota 378,633 980 10.07 98.68
New Hampshire 601,697 615 16.07 98.80
North Dakota 342,549 1,091 9.06 98.85
Nebraska 806,524 1,000 10.04 100.46
Arkansas 1,332,154 1,120 9.30 104.14
Indiana 2,755,595 997 10.53 104.93
Louisiana 1,995,661 1,254 8.37 104.99
Ohio 4,869,305 895 11.76 105.23
New York 7,010,740 603 17.62 106.14
West Virginia 865,673 1,078 9.85 106.15
Kansas 1,217,256 945 11.24 106.19
Kentucky 1,924,644 1,130 9.43 106.54
Pennsylvania 5,261,381 837 12.75 106.78
Oklahoma 1,679,296 1,132 9.51 107.60
Missouri 2,699,287 1,060 10.17 107.80
New Jersey 3,455,302 691 15.78 109.10
Nevada 1,080,583 935 11.83 110.58
Alaska 275,405 654 17.88 116.89
North Carolina 4,230,588 1,077 10.91 117.45
Arizona 2,585,638 1,061 11.29 119.84
Mississippi 1,256,392 1,193 10.26 122.49
Georgia 4,071,478 1,098 11.17 122.73
Tennessee 2,721,099 1,217 10.10 122.98
Florida 8,645,207 1,081 11.42 123.45
Virginia 3,248,518 1,117 11.08 123.72
Connecticut 1,454,651 731 17.34 126.75
Delaware 399,998 942 13.58 127.92
Texas 9,802,110 1,168 10.98 128.27
Maryland 2,212,287 1,005 12.84 129.00
South Carolina 2,113,144 1,119 11.77 131.64
Alabama 2,150,977 1,187 11.40 135.26
Hawaii 419,612 544 37.34 203.15

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.

One thought on “WV PSC Focused on Wrong Electricity Number

  1. Thank you for doing the job every other newspaper on WV should have done. Unfortunately our news reporters have grown lazy and prefer someone give then the news and then fail to check.for accuracy

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