Legislation that would have required all electric power sold in the state to be generated by renewable sources by 2045 was held up in the final days of the recently-completed legislative session. But it will come back. Should the idea ever become law, we’ll remember these as the easy days when our power bills were cheap.
Most of our electricity is powered by fossil fuels, with 60 percent generated by natural gas plants. These are the cheapest and most reliable power sources we have. Even so, electricity is already outrageously expensive in California. The California Business Roundtable says residential electricity rates are nearly 45 percent higher than the national average while residential power bills have increased almost 19 percent since 2010. The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s latest data show that California electricity rates are 67 percent higher than Nevada’s, 77 percent higher than Oregon’s and 53 percent higher than Arizona’s.
The California Business Roundtable notes that, “for the 12 months ended June 2017, California’s higher electricity prices translated into residential ratepayers paying $4.9 billion more than the average ratepayer elsewhere in the U.S. using the same amount of energy.”
Don’t think that business is getting a break at residential customers’ expense. Commercial electricity prices are more than 53 percent higher than the national average, and industrial electricity prices are close to 88 percent higher. As with residential rates, California’s commercial and industrial electricity prices are often more than twice as high as its neighboring states.
High electricity costs have created pockets of energy poverty across the state. This is one reason why, under the Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure, California has the highest poverty rate in the country at 20.4 percent. This hasn’t happened due to “market failure” or greed. It’s a product of terribly flawed public policy.