Electricity Rates Up 6% Since January 2010

Last month we reported that residential electricity rates were on the rise after a recent decline. The latest numbers out from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) confirms that this upward trend is continuing.

The March 2010 numbers show that the average residential electricity rates were 11.20 cents per kilowatt-hour compared with 10.93 cents per kwh in February 2010. This represents a month-over-month increase of 2.4 percent which means rates have risen a total of 6.1 percent in February and March alone.

On the solar front, the EIA reported that the total of solar electricity generation in the U.S. in March 2010 was 64,000 megawatt-hours, which is a decrease of 9.4 percent from March 2009. The greatest contributors to this number were California with 69 percent of the solar energy generation, Nevada with 20 percent, andFlorida with 6 percent of the total. Because the majority of the solar electricity is generated at a handful of plants throughout the country, weather, maintenance, and repairs that affect just one plant can result in significant decrease in the total production numbers.

Wind is definitely carrying the torch for renewable generation at this point. The latest numbers show that generation from wind was up 18.1 percent in March 2010 compared with 2009 numbers.

On the non-renewable side, the EIA reports that coal-fired generation increased 6.6 percent from March 2009 to March 2010. This marks the third consecutive month that coal-fired generation was higher than it had been in the same calendar month in the prior year. An increase in coal-fired electricity generation in Illinois, Texas, Georgia, Ohio, and Alabama accounted for 62.6 percent of the national increase. The EIA also reports that nuclear generation declined 3.9 percent, natural gas electricity generation was down 7.9 percent, and generation from conventional hydroelectric sources decreased 5.2 percent. This biggest drop in electricity production was from liquid petroleum, which was down 38.2 percent.

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