The monthly energy updates have been published for July 2020 fuel prices (data from GasBuddy.com) and electricity prices and natural gas prices for April 2020 (price data from the US Energy Information Agency).  Through the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown, California’s energy costs unfortunately continue to be more expensive than the rest of the United States – with lower income families unfortunately being hit the hardest.

The data indicate that California energy prices continued to rise higher, both in absolute terms and compared to the averages for the other US States.  According to a report from the Center for Jobs and the Economy,

“These outcomes mean that even as many households struggle under the current economic conditions, the state’s energy policies continue to take an increasing share of household incomes both directly in gasoline and utility bills and indirectly as these costs are incorporated into the prices of every other component of the costs of living. Even as the state explores ways to promote a more equitable path in the now delayed economic recovery, the state energy policies continue to ensure that rising costs of living will continue to have a disparate impact on lower and increasingly middle income class households.”

Rising energy rates also have important consequences, as residents continue to shelter in place and struggle to maintain their jobs and incomes by working at home.  Not surprisingly, average residential customer use was up 5% in April compared to the same month a year ago, and up 15% in May.  The Center for Jobs and the Economy report correctly identifies that, “Some households have the potential for offsetting savings from lower gasoline use, but this factor applies primarily to those workers able to continue employment through telework.”

However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics telework data, suggests that these workers are generally in higher wage occupations, concluding that “Lower wage workers in essential industries have had to contend with both cost factors.”

As we endeavor to provide the most reliable and current information on the realities of energy costs, we also continue to urge that true energy independence means that more of our energy needs must be locally sourced.  

California Gasoline and Diesel Prices in July

  1. The July average price per gallon of regular gasoline in California rose 12 cents from June to $3.15.  The California premium above the average for the US other than California ($2.12) rose to $1.04, a 48.9% difference.
  2. In July, California had the 2nd highest gasoline price among the states and DC, behind only Hawaii.  Californians paid $1.31 a gallon more than consumers in Mississippi, the state with the lowest price.
  3. The July average price per gallon of diesel in California rose 3 cents from June to $3.34.  The California premium above the average for the US other than California ($2.37) rose to 97.2 cents, a 41.0% difference.
  4. In July, California had the 2nd highest diesel price among the states and DC, behind only Hawaii.

California Residential Electricity Prices in May

  1. California average Residential Price for the 12 months ended May 2020 was 19.69 cents/kWh, staying at 55.8% higher than the US average of 12.64 cents/kWh for all states other than California.  California’s residential prices remained the 7th highest in the nation.
  2. For the 12 months ended May 2020, the average annual Residential electricity bill in California was $1,251, or 25.9% higher ($257) 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 1.6% ($22).
  3. Note:  Residential bills, however, 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 May 2020, California’s higher electricity prices translated into Residential ratepayers paying $6.2 billion more than the average ratepayers elsewhere in the US using the same amount of energy. Compared to the lowest rate state (Louisiana), California ratepayers paid an additional $9.0 billion.

California Commercial and Industrial Electricity Prices in May

  1. California average Commercial Price for the 12 months ended May 2020 was 17.18 cents/kWh, 70.8% higher than the US average of 10.06 cents/kWh for all states other than California.  California’s commercial prices remained the 3rd highest in the nation.
  2. California average Industrial Price for the 12 months ended May 2020 was 13.82 cents/kWh, 117.0% higher than the US average of 6.37 cents/kWh for all states other than California. California’s industrial prices remained the 5th highest in the nation.

For the 12 months ended May 2020, California’s higher electricity prices translated into Commercial & Industrial ratepayers paying $11.2 billion more than ratepayers elsewhere in the US using the same amount of energy. Compared to the lowest rate states, California businesses paid an additional $14.7 billion.

California Natural Gas Prices in May

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