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Electricity Monthly Update

With Data for December 2014  |  Release Date: March 4, 2015  |  Next Release Date: March 24, 2015

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End Use: December 2014

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 by state was a mixed bag in December. Thirty states had increases relative to last December and twenty states and the District of Columbia had decreases compared to last year. Illinois had the largest increase, up nearly 12% and California had the second-largest year-over-year increase, up over 10%. Rhode Island had by far the largest year-over-year decrease, down nearly 12%, with Hawaii having the second-largest decline, down nearly 6%. Geographically, the changes were very spread out, with states in all regions either up or down relative to last December.

The decline in Hawaii is particularly interesting given the unique nature of that state's energy structure. Hawaii imports nearly all its energy and has relied on petroleum for the vast majority of its electric generating needs. Though the islands have seen the rapid adoption of distributed generation from rooftop solar, its large power stations, powered by petroleum, still meet most of its electricity needs. The recent precipitous drop in world oil seems to already be impacting the state's retail electricity sector. Hawaii's retail prices have fallen over 8% from September to December and the state has had the second largest year-over-year declines of any state in both November and December. Though it should be noted, Hawaii's retail rates are still considerably above the national average and any other individual state (see second tab).

Average revenue per kilowatthour was 10.13 cents in December, 2.7% higher than last year. This marks the 25th straight month with year-over-year increases. All sectors were up this month, led by the commercial sector, up 3.8% to 10.34 cents per kilowatthour and the residential sector, up 3.7% to 12.15 cents per kilowatthour.

Total retail sales volumes totaled 306,215 GWh, which was down 3.2% from last December. All sectors showed declines, with the residential sector sales down significantly by 6.6%, due to unusually warm weather across the entire country which depressed energy demand for space heating purposes.

Retail sales

The December electric industry retail sales environment can be broadly traced to one factor: weather. December was extremely mild across nearly every state in the country relative to both last year and long-term trends, which lowered retail sales volumes in 44 states and the District of Columbia. Not only were most states down in December, but many were down by large amounts, with 12 states experiencing year-over-year declines between 5-10%. Only six states (Wyoming, North Dakota, Arizona, West Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina) had higher retail sales volumes than last December.

Heating degree days (HDDs) were lower in all but four states in December, and lower by a wide margin in many states. Texas, Louisiana, Utah and Minnesota all had HDD declines greater than 25% compared to last December and 18 states had HDD totals 15-25% lower than last year. Only Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina had more HDDs this December than last year (Hawaii's percentage is not shown due to its very low HHD count). When comparing this December to long-term normals, every single state had significantly lower HDDs than normal.

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