Two inexorable energy trends are underway in California: soaring electricity prices and ever-worsening reliability—and both trends bode ill for the state’s low- and middle-income consumers.
Last week, the state’s grid operator, the California Independent System Operator, issued a “flex alert” that asked the state’s consumers to reduce their power use “to reduce stress on the grid and avoid power outages.”
The California Independent System Operator’s warning of impending electricity shortages heralds another blackout-riddled summer at the same time California’s electricity prices are skyrocketing.
In 2020, California’s electricity prices jumped by 7.5%, making it the biggest price increase of any state in the country last year and nearly seven times the increase that was seen in the United States as a whole.
According to data from the Energy Information Administration, the all-sector price of electricity in California last year jumped to 18.15 cents per kilowatt-hour, which means that Californians are now paying about 70% more for their electricity than the U.S. average all-sector rate of 10.66 cents per kWh. Even more worrisome: California’s electricity rates are expected to soar over the next decade. (More on that in a moment.)
The surging cost of electricity will increase the energy burden being borne by low- and middle-income Californians. High energy costs have a particularly regressive effect in California, which has the highest poverty rate—and some of the highest electricity prices—in the country. In 2020, California’s all-sector electricity prices were the third-highest in the continental U.S., behind only Rhode Island (18.55 cents per kWh) and Connecticut (19.19 cents per kWh.)
And related, which deserves a chuckle, paywalled at ET, With Its Power Grid Under Pressure, California Asks Residents to Avoid Charging Electric Vehicles
Amid a West Coast heat wave that includes triple-digit temperatures, California’s power grid operators have called on residents to not use as much electricity so as to put less strain on the state’s beleaguered grid.
They voted poorly.