Electric bills not expected to rise sharply in 2015

Analysts expect consumer electricity rate hikes to be less severe in 2015.
Analysts expect consumer electricity rate hikes to be less severe in 2015. | Contributed photo
Consumers may get some relief from steadily increasing electricity rates thanks to lower fuel costs paid by their utilities.

They could use a breather. In 2014, the average customer's electricity bill jumped 3.1 percent from the previous year. That was the biggest gain since 2008. The U.S. Energy Information Administration said prices will increase again in 2015, but at a slower rate.

The picture looks better when you put it into historical perspective. For the most part, electricity prices have been rising slower than the rate of inflation. In fact, in terms of constant dollars, consumers are paying less for electricity than they were in 1995.

Consumers on the Pacific Coast saw the smallest increase in their electric bills in 2014, at 1.3 percent. New Englanders were not so fortunate. They had to shell out nearly 10 percent more than they did in 2013.

Several reasons are behind the higher costs, including the elevated prices charged by regional wholesale electricity providers, from which many electric utilities purchase their power. Utilities also made substantial investments in capital improvements. Costs to provide energy from renewable sources, such as solar power, also were a factor.

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US Energy Information Administration

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