Power Bills Down This Summer, But Not in Texas

Screen Shot 2013-06-28 at 9.27.52 AMThe heat has returned to the Lone Star State, and once again the AC is revving up and the state’s power grid is stretching more and more to meet the demand.

A new report out this week from the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA) shows that while prices are going to be down for power across much of the county this summer, Texas is the one place where they’re expected to go up by a fairly significant amount.

If you live in the Northeast, your power bills are expected to be down nearly three percent this year, mostly due to cooler temperatures. Overall, the country’s electric bills on average are projected to be the cheapest in four years. But here in Texas, they’re projected to be up nearly two percent.

From the forecast:

“… the summer 2013 average U.S. residential electric bill will total $395 overthe three-month period of June, July, and August, which is $10 (2.5 percent) lower than the average U.S. bill during summer 2012 (Figure 1). A projected 4.6-percent decline in average electricity retail sales per customer (usage) this summer, because of forecast milder temperatures, is offset in part by a projected 2.2-percent increase in average U.S. retail electricity prices.”

According to the report, another factor leading to higher prices in Texas is the fact that our energy market is deregulated:

“While EIA expects fossil fuel prices to increase by about 14 percent in 2013, the effect on residential rates is unlikely to be fully passed through to customers for another year or more. Prices during the summer of 2013 should be slightly higher than last year as some utilities, especially in deregulated states, begin to pass through the higher costs of generation. During the summer months of June-August 2013, the U.S. residential price is expected to average 12.35 cents/kWh, which is 2.2 percent higher than the average price last summer.”

Whether or not deregulation has been a good thing for power bills in Texas has been an ongoing debate. What is clear is that not enough power plants are being built to keep up with the state’s growing demand. The Texas grid is projected to hit record demand this summer, even though temperatures are not expected to reach the extremes of 2011.

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