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Electricity Monthly Update

With Data for August 2015  |  Release Date: Oct. 27, 2015  |  Next Release Date: Nov. 30, 2015

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End Use: August 2015

Retail rates/prices and consumption

In this section, we look at what electricity costs and how much is purchased. Charges for retail electric service are based primarily on rates approved by state regulators. However, a number of states have allowed retail marketers to compete to serve customers and these competitive retail suppliers offer electricity at a market-based price.

EIA does not directly collect retail electricity rates or prices. However, using data collected on retail sales revenues and volumes, we calculate average retail revenues per kWh as a proxy for retail rates and prices. Retail sales volumes are presented as a proxy for end-use electricity consumption.

Average revenue per kWh by state

Average revenue per kilowatthour figures were higher in 28 states and lower in 22 states and the District of Columbia during the month of August. Nearly all states were +/- 5% difference from last August except West Virginia, up 12%, Maine and Arkansas, both up nearly 6%, and Hawaii, which was down 21%. Hawaii had the largest decline of any state for the eighth month in a row and has had year-over-year declines of greater than 20% for the last six months. Hawaii's bulk power system is largely petroleum-fueled and has benefitted greatly from the large fall in world oil prices that began in the latter half of 2014. We should continue to see these precipitous year-over-year declines for the next several months as a significant change in a wholesale commodity price is not always immediately reflected in a retail consumers' bill. It can take several months, or longer, for new contracts and deliveries that reflect the current price of the commodity. In this case, Hawaii's average revenue per kilowatthour fell steadily from 34.02 cents in September 2014 to 27.03 cents in February 2015 and has remained close to that level ever since.

Total average revenues per kilowatthour were 10.86 cents in August, down 0.5% from last year. For the third month in a row, all sectors declined relative to one year ago. The Commercial and Transportation sectors were both down 1.5%, the Industrial sector was down 0.8%, and the Residential sector declined 0.7%.

Total retail sales volumes were up 3.1% to 358,676 GWh in August compared to last year, though this is down slightly from July's 359,549 GWh total retail sales volumes. The largest increase occurred in the largest sector by volume, with the Residential sector up 6.4% to 144,086 GWh. The Commercial sector was up 1.4% to 128,229 GWh and the Industrial sector was up 0.2%. The Transportation sector was the only sector down compared to last year, falling 2.7% to 623 GWh.

Retail sales

In the month of August, retail sales volumes tend to correlate closely with weather patterns during the peak of summer. Weather ranges from warm to very hot across the country, unlike shoulder periods where temperature differences can mean different things in different parts of the country. This August, temperatures across much of the country trended warmer than last year, and lo and behold, most states (39 and the District of Columbia) had increased levels of retail sales volumes. The largest temperature increases were found in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, South, and Rocky Mountain regions and states in those areas mirrored that pattern with higher retail sales volumes. Rhode Island had the largest gain of any state, up 32%, followed by North Dakota, up 12%, Nevada, up 11%, and New Jersey, up 10%. Temperatures trended cooler in the Great Lakes/Midwest, Northwest, and Florida, and in these areas, states tended to have lower retail sales volumes than last August. Of the few states (11) with lower levels of retail sales volumes compared to last year, Minnesota had the largest decline, down 5%, followed by Oklahoma, Washington, and California, which were all down between 2-3%.

Cooling Degree Day (CDD) trends were fairly consistent during the month of August. Most states had higher to much higher levels of CDDs compared to last year, with the largest differences found in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Rocky Mountain, and Southwest regions. The hottest weather relative to last August occurred in the Northeast, where the nine states with the largest year-over-year increases were found. Every state north and east of Pennsylvania and New Jersey had CDD increases greater than 46%, with Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Vermont CDD having levels more than double those from last August. CDD levels were lower in the Great Lakes/Midcontinent area down into Alabama and Florida and also in the Northwest. The largest declines could be found in Missouri, Kansas, and Indiana, all down more than 25%.

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