The monthly energy updates have been published for October 2020 fuel prices (data from GasBuddy.com) and electricity prices and natural gas prices for August 2020 (price data from the U.S. Energy Information Agency). 

According to a report released this month by The California Center for Jobs & the Economy, “… the state’s climate change regulations now cost California households and employers $44 billion more a year when the cost of energy is compared to the average for the other states, and more if the consumption levels had been closer to the pre-COVID levels.”  The report estimates are based on a comparison to the average prices in the rest of the U.S. and “… does not take into account the state’s ability in the past to provide reliable energy at lower prices, contributing to the state’s competitiveness in the past for both residents and businesses.”

The report goes on to say that the additional cost of $44 billion a year is not the cost of a climate change program, but rather, it is the cost of the way the State has chosen to pursue its program, “… relying heavily on a constantly expanding—even under the current unprecedented health and economic crisis conditions—body of regulations.”

As Energy In Focus continues to review these figures and numerous third party reports, compounding figures continue to point to a growing cost of energy for all Californians.  As reflected in the figures that follow, cost impacts continue to rise relative to the rest of the nation and these growing costs continue to impose a disparate burden to the lower wage households who have seen the highest loss of jobs as a result of the COVID-19 state-ordered closures. 

The most recent energy costs data shows a continued sustained rise in California energy prices compared to the rest of the nation.  California’s residential electricity prices place the Golden State at 6th highest, industrial prices at 4th highest, and commercial prices remained at the 3rd highest in the nation.

Following are the current energy costs in California, which continue to move in the wrong direction – for all ratepayer classes:

California Prices for Gasoline (2nd Highest in the U.S.) and Diesel (2nd Highest in the U.S.) in October 

  1. The October average price per gallon of regular gasoline in California actually decreased three cents from September to $3.20.  The California premium above the average for the U.S. other than California ($2.08) remained at $1.12, a 53.7% difference.
  2. •  In October, California had the 2nd highest gasoline price among the states and D.C., behind only Hawaii.  Californians paid $1.36 a gallon more (74% more) than consumers in Mississippi, the state with the lowest price.
  3. The October average price per gallon of diesel in California eased two cents from September to $3.34.  The California premium above the average for the U.S. other than California ($2.31) rose to $1.03, a 44.5% difference.
  4. •  In October, California had the 2nd highest diesel price among the states and DC, behind only Hawaii.

California Residential Electricity Prices in August – 6th Highest in the US

  1. •  California average Residential Price for the 12 months ended August 2020 was 19.74 cents/kWh, 56.3% higher than the U.S. average of 12.63 cents/kWh for all states other than California. California’s residential prices remained the 6th highest in the nation.
  2. •  For the 12 months ended August 2020, the average annual Residential electricity bill in California was $1,297, or 30.5% higher ($303) than the comparable bill in 2010 (the year the AB 32 implementation began with the Early Action items).  In this same period, the average US (less CA) electricity bill for all the other states grew only 3.4% ($47).
  3. •  Note:  Residential bills vary widely by region, with the estimated annual household usage in 2018 as much as 59% higher in the interior regions compared to the milder climate coastal areas.

For the 12 months ended August 2020, California’s higher electricity prices translated into Residential ratepayers paying $6.5 billion more than the average ratepayers elsewhere in the U.S. using the same amount of energy.

California Commercial (3rd Highest in the US) and Industrial Electricity Prices (4th Highest in the US) in August

  1. •  California average Commercial Price for the 12 months ended August 2020 was 17.45 cents/kWh, 74.2% higher than the US average of 10.02 cents/kWh for all states other than California. California’s commercial prices remained the 3rd highest in the nation.
  2. •  California’s October Fuel and August Electricity Prices Continue Outpacing the Rest of the USACalifornia average Industrial Price for the 12 months ended August 2020 was 14.18 cents/kWh, 125.1% higher than the US average of 6.30 cents/kWh for all states other than California. California’s industrial prices remained the 4th highest in the nation.

For the 12 months ended August 2020, California’s higher electricity prices translated into Commercial & Industrial ratepayers paying $11.6 billion more than ratepayers elsewhere in the U.S. using the same amount of energy.

California Natural Gas Prices in August

Average prices ($ per thousand cubic feet) for the 12 months ended August 2020 and changes from the previous 12-month period for each end user:

Chart of California energy costs