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Electricity Monthly Update

With Data for January 2014  |  Release Date: Mar. 21, 2014  |  Next Release Date: Apr. 21, 2014

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End Use: January 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

In January, 45 out of 50 states and the District of Columbia had average revenue per kWh figures higher than last January. Rhode Island had the highest increase, up almost 29%, and Kentucky, Georgia, Nevada, Maine and New Jersey all had increases greater than 10%. Only Arkansas, Louisiana, Hawaii, West Virginia and Tennessee had average revenue per kilowatt figures lower than they recorded last January, with the largest decrease of 3.59% found in Arkansas.

Changes in state's average revenue per kilowatthour values are due to a number of market and regulatory factors. Price changes in the wholesale energy markets markets have little immediate effect on retail revenues. In a month like January where much of the country endured extended cold weather, high energy demand and high wholesale energy prices, the effect on retail customers may not be immediate or consistent across states. Customers will experience varying price sensitivity as a result of fuel pass-through clauses, retail choice contract provisions and rate case schedules, among other factors.

Total average revenues per kilowatthour averaged 10.13 cents in January, up from 9.88 cents in December and an increase of 4.9% from last January. The industrial sector had the largest increase from last year, 7.9%, followed by the commercial (5.6%) and residential (1.6%) sectors. The transportation sector, a small component of total, was up 0.5% from last January. Average revenues were highest in the residential sector, at 11.65 cents per kilowatthour, followed by the commercial sector at 10.34 cents per kilowatthour. The industrial sector, even with the largest year-over-year increase of the sectors, had the lowest average revenue levels in January at 6.96 cents per kilowatthour.

Total retail sales volumes increased 6.8 percent from last January to total 339,006 GWh. This was also up nearly 8% from December sales levels of 314,076 GWh. The retail sales volumes increase this January is due to the much colder weather most of the country experienced. The residential sector, most sensitive to low temperatures, had an 11.5% increase in retail sales volumes from last January while commercial sector volumes rose 6.4%. The industrial sector, more immune to changes in temperature, was down 0.7% from last January.

Retail Sales

Electric industry retail sales volume changes in January mirrored weather patterns. States in the western U.S. experiencing above normal temperatures this winter saw a decrease in retail sales volumes. Arizona, Idaho, and Nevada, all had retail sales volumes decreases of greater than 4%. States in the eastern U.S. and in particular the Southeast, where temperatures remained well below normal for the month, had retail sales volume increases. West Virginia, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Virginia, North Carolina, North Dakota, and the District of Columbia all had increases of at least 10% from last January.

As mentioned last month, the closure of a United States Enrichment Corporation facility in Paducah, Kentucky is having a noticeable effect on Kentucky's retail sales volumes. This facility was a large consumer of electric power and its absence makes a noticeable difference in Kentucky's retail sales volumes, which were down 5.6% in January from a year ago, the largest decrease of any state.

Nationally, heating degree days (HDDs) in January were up 17% from last year. A consistent weather pattern developed in January and has continued through February and March, with those states east of the Rocky Mountains experiencing colder-than-normal weather and states to the west experiencing warmer-than-normal temperatures. All 11 states covering the Rockies and to the west in the continental U.S. had HDD totals down at least 6% from last January, with California leading the way with a decrease of nearly 47%.

This is in stark contrast with the eastern U.S., where states from Louisiana to Maryland experienced an increase in HDDs of at least 30% from last January. Florida had the largest increase in HDDs (220%), followed by Georgia (up 80%), Alabama (up 73%) and Louisiana (up 71%). The state east of the Mississippi River with the smallest increase in HDDs from last January was actually Maine, up only 4%.

The pattern is similar when looking at this January in relation to long-term normal levels (see the second tab). HDD levels were lower in the western U.S. and higher (and in many instances much higher) in states in the Midwest and eastern U.S.

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