Historical Electric Rates

Solar proponents claim that electric rates in California have been going up significantly faster than inflation, making solar a good deal. Here’s the data to prove it.


Utility-Wide Weighted Average Retail Electricity Prices 1980-2005

(nominal $) (cents/kWh)

Year 	PG&E 	SCE 	SDG&E 	LADWP 	SMUD 	BGP 	ESPs 	Other Municipal Utilities
1980 	4.76 	6.09 	8.43 	5.61 	2.53 	6.72
1981 	6.05 	6.45 	9.36 	6.16 	2.82 	6.48
1982 	6.24 	7.37 	11.26 	6.11 	3.03 	7.60
1983 	6.42 	7.42 	11.66 	5.85 	3.75 	7.48
1984 	7.86 	7.64 	11.80 	6.08 	3.92 	7.79
1985 	8.73 	7.94 	12.84 	6.54 	4.56 	7.81
1986 	8.72 	8.20 	11.66 	6.74 	5.45 	7.65
1987 	7.56 	8.19 	10.42 	7.09 	6.64 	8.22
1988 	7.85 	8.51 	9.82 	7.57 	7.35 	9.05
1989 	8.79 	9.17 	9.51 	8.06 	7.41 	9.50
1990 	9.24 	9.45 	9.22 	8.39 	8.27 	9.82
1991 	9.87 	10.07 	9.36 	8.23 	8.30 	9.91
1992 	10.42 	10.36 	9.47 	8.62 	8.21 	10.34
1993 	10.59 	10.06 	9.89 	9.13 	7.69 	10.96
1994 	10.71 	10.28 	9.69 	9.53 	7.96 	11.49
1995 	9.89 	10.46 	9.67 	9.14 	8.18 	11.43
1996 	10.20 	10.22 	10.36 	9.12 	8.14 	11.36
1997 	10.30 	10.22 	10.70 	9.36 	7.92 	10.51
1998 	9.74 	10.10 	10.16 	9.76 	7.63 	10.95
1999 	9.81 	10.05 	10.16 	9.75 	7.60 	10.96
2000 	9.82 	10.12 	13.72 	9.79 	7.61 	10.97
2001 	11.74 	12.87 	13.66 	9.79 	9.26 	13.57
2002 	12.72 	12.82 	14.45 	9.80 	9.27 	12.72
2003 	13.18 	13.16 	14.26 	9.80 	9.81 	12.43
2004 	12.72 	12.18 	14.55 	9.66 	8.60 	11.88 	6.19 	9.34
2005 	13.07 	12.93 	14.72 	9.31 	10.10 	11.97 	6.44 	9.51

Note: Energy Commission staff estimated these prices using data from EIA, utility websites and submittals during the IEPR cycles.

Utility-Wide Prices – These include prices for residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural customer classes.

BGP – This category includes electricity rates for customers of the cities of Burbank, Glendale and Pasadena.

Other Municipal Utilities – This category includes rates for Redding Electric Utility, Silicon Valley Power, City of Anaheim, Riverside, Roseville, Modesto Irrigation District, Turlock Irrigation District, and Imperial Irrigation District.

ESPs – These rates only reflect the generation portion of the total rate. Other charges such as T&D must be added. ESPs – Energy Service Providers include Arizona Power Service (APS), Constellation New Energy (CNE), Pilot Power Group, Strategic Energy LLC, and Sempra Energy Solutions.


Table 5.6.A. Average Retail Price of Electricity to Ultimate Customers by End-Use Sector, by State, November 2007 and 2006 (Cents per kilowatthour)

                Residential	Commercial	Industrial1	Transportation	All Sectors
California  	Nov-07 	Nov-06 	Nov-07	Nov-06  Nov-07 	Nov-06  Nov-07  Nov-06 	Nov-07 	Nov-06
California  	14.26  	14.47  	11.94  	12.23  	9.75  	9.66  	7.8  	7.27  	12.23  	12.38


 Average Revenue per Kilowatthour by State
(Lowest to Highest Rate as of November 2007)
Rank 	State 	Average Electricity Rate for
All Sectors
(Cents per Kilowatthour)

39  	Maryland 	11.58
40 	District of Columbia 	11.99
41 	Vermont 	12.11
42 	California 	12.23
43 	New Jersey 	12.84
44 	Alaska 	13.12
45 	Rhode Island 	13.55
46 	Maine 	13.66
47 	New Hampshire 	13.68
48 	Massachusetts 	14.71
49 	New York 	14.90
50 	Connecticut 	15.77
51 	Hawaii 	23.67

More info http://www.energy.ca.gov/electricity/index.html#rates


  1. Charles Black says:

    Is the chart depicting increases in rates from 1980-2005 stated in 2005 Dollars?

    Thank you

  2. Lee says:

    I think it’s in actual dollars, not adjusted.

  3. Steve Doubleday says:

    Thanks for this.

    If I do the math, it looks like the average annual increase is only in the range of 3%. If these are nominal dollars, this is actually somewhat less than the CPI rate of increase over the same period (just under 4%). Here’s what I get:
    PG&E: 4%
    SCE: 3%
    SDG&E: 3%
    LADWP: 2%
    SMUD: 6%
    BGP: 2%

    Am I missing something? I typically get quoted an historical increase in the range of 5-6%/year.

  4. Lee says:

    Yeah, it bothers me that the chart I had been given by my solar company to show customers said in big letters how electric rates had been climbing 6.7% a year for the last 25 years. The numbers shown here are lower. PG&E, the largest, most relevant utility to my location, at about 4.5%, not 6.7%. :-(

  5. bennett says:

    Looks to me like this is only KWh charges–which can include various taxes, tariffs, etc…but it doesn’t average in Demand Charges which can probably skew results.

  6. k swain says:

    The links for the Utility-Wide Weighted Average Retail Electricity Prices 1980-2005 table are dead. I checked the CEC’s website and they are not posted. Do you still have the original source data for this table?

  7. lee says:

    Sorry, no I don’t have the data…. but I see that Archive.org does. Check it out

  8. Adam says:

    The EIA has a huge data set that can be filtered down to a very granular level (ie: Investor owned utilities like PGE vs Municipal owned like LADWP; commercial vs residential, etc). It’s likely that the data used by your solar company was different than the one shown here. It doesn’t make it wrong or incorrect, just not an apples:apples comparison.

    Also, the CAGR calculation is highly sensitive to the length of time and period examined. Most solar companies include the 1970’s in performing their calculation. This tends to increase CAGR. This is not an unreasonable approach since PV systems have an expected life of >30yrs.

  9. k swain says:

    Thanks Lee.

  10. Isaac says:

    the 6.7% average annual rate increase quoted by many solar companies is for the years 1970-2000, not the most up to date information.

  11. lee says:

    Isaac, do you have access to the data from 1970-1980? Or even earlier? I could not find it.

    It doesn’t seem so bad to take a 30 year chunk, even if it’s a little old. Of course, if we could see the older data, maybe it would become evident that that was an unusual period… Though hey, 30 years….

  12. Ben says:

    I could be wrong but the idea of using SDG&E’s “average” rates is deceiving since SDG&E uses a Tier System to charge for electricity so there is no real average rate. (See http://www.sdge.com/customer/rates/rateBreakDown.shtml for its current rate structure starting in 9/01/09) In addition, I am not sure that the costs shown on your webpage take into account the substantial fees, bonds, taxes that are part of a typical SDG&E utility bill.

    Be that what it may, I have looked at several past bills and have input the usage using SDG&E current rate structure (see link above) and using their current tier system (see link below) and I find that according to my calculations there has been a major increase over the 2008 — 2009/10 rate period.

    Winter Rate:
    March 2008 — 757KWh = $123.53 (Actual)
    March 2010 — 757KWh = $154.08 (Calculated)

    Summer Rate:
    June 2008 (Summer) — 766K = $135.51 (Actual)
    June 2010 — 766KWh = 163.40 (Calculated)

    The above shows a 25% increase over this period that seems to contradict the lower increases stated above. I feel fairly certain of my approach but am open to any comments in regards to this.

    A caveat — As of July 2008, I no longer get any standard utility bills as I have installed a PV system that covers all my electrical use and am on a net-metering system with SDG&E so I do not have access to any additional utility bills.

    * http://www.sdge.com/customer/rates/baselineTierCalculator.shtml. Note that the tier allocations are exactly the same between 2008 & 2009/10.

  13. electricians says:

    Wow, how interesting. I didn’t realize that increases in electricity was actually below CPI increases.

  14. Charly in SJ says:

    Here’s the page that contains links to the updated price data:


    For instance:


    I’m still undecided about SunRun’s recent offer to install, maintain, and insure a system on my house and guarantee a 2.9% annual increase in prices for all Tier 3 and above electricity (which my house always consumes). (I am PG&E.) BTW, they quote a 16% annual rate hike of Tiers 3 & 4 from PG&E from 2001 to 2011. I haven’t been able to confirm that, but haven’t dug too deep (or ferreted out my own PG&E bills from that period).

  15. Will Grant says:

    Here’s a link to an interesting staff paper about CALIFORNIA’S RESIDENTIAL ELECTRICITY CONSUMPTION, PRICES, AND BILLS, 1980-2005:


    with my 1 year old solar system -in LADWP territory- I’ve just calculated my annual solar savings compared to the pre-solar and it’s saving 78.6% of our previous year’s bill.
    The design estimate was based on 84% energy savings and it estimated a 7% annual utility cost rise which would pay off the cost in 9 years.
    The actual tax benefit was somewhat lower than the estimated amount, so now it looks like we’ll pay off our system in 16.5 years if prices stay the same

  16. sam sales says:

    I’m one of those solar sales guys that touts the increasing cost of electricity to sell solar panels. I’m constantly perusing these types of blogs to help keep my finger on the pulse of the customer. Accurately calculating your electric bill month to month and year to year is difficult to impossible unless you save your bills and do the math. You aren’t an average user of electricity. This link goes to Edison and shows what their plan for the 2012 increase is and how it affects the average user of 652kWhr a month. http://asset.sce.com/Documents/Shared/101203_SCE_GRC_Notice.pdf The PUC watered down the increase to 7% range for the average SCE customer. This average customer includes CARE rates (medical and low income rates). If you are not a CARE rate or an average user (652kWhr month) you will likely have a higher increase. Not sure if this board allows contact but you can email me at sam@rccsolar.com with any questions or if you want a quote or price check an existing quote. We stay in SCE territory for the most part.

  17. Tom Lewis says:

    I was analyzing this sort of trend when I sold PV back in 2006. See this link http://www.thomaswlewis.com/?page_id=19.

    You can see the impact that usage has on rate increase, particularly after 1998.


  18. lee says:

    Tom, that’s pretty cool. And a nice site. Thanks for showing me!

  19. Ted says:

    What really skews the results are the different tiers (which is why looking at a weighted average doesnt work)

    Baseline tiers are heavily regulated and typically do not increase by more than a few percent each year.
    However, top tiers frequently increase rapidly and are often 3-4X the cost of baseline power.

    Thats why solar installers try to install tier shavers which save the customer money and also protect from upper tier rate increases.

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