Prepare now and lock in your electric rates!
Electric rates are expected to spike next winter, reaching their highest point in at least two decades on the back of higher energy demand and market turmoil caused by the war in Ukraine. The electric rate could reach 15.6 cents a kilowatt hour, according to estimates.
If that happens, the rate for many would be nearly double what was just approved by state regulators for the summer. As a result, the monthly bill for a typical residential customer, after delivery and other fees are factored in, would jump from about $111 to more than $150. The prospects aren’t looking good for ratepayers.
“These are the highest futures prices that I recall in my 10-plus years doing this,”James Ruebenacker, manager of wholesale electric supply for National Grid in New England
Electric Prices Rising Nationwide
Electric rates across the nation were already going up coming into this year as the economy started recovering from the COVID pandemic. The average electric price nationwide last year rose at its fastest pace since 2008, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The surge came as the price of natural gas, a major fuel for electric generation, more than doubled. The trend is expected to continue this year.
Wholesale electric prices this past January hit their highest point in eight years while real-time and day-ahead power prices more than tripled compared to January 2021. The effects are already being felt by consumers… rates climbed 20-25% in January.
Next winter the country will feel more of the effects of the overheated energy market.
Electric Rates Tied to Price of Natural Gas
The last time electric rates approached what’s being projected was in the winter of 2015. Before that, consumers would have to go back to 2008 to find a similar spike in the price of power. Amid a global surge in oil and natural gas prices, the winter rate hit 12.4 cents a kilowatt hour.
Both previous price hikes came in large part from an increasing reliance on natural gas for power generation. With more power generators depending on the fuel source to create electricity, power suppliers have been thrown into competition with the heating market to get gas. The result has been a pattern of peaks and valleys in electric prices, with increases in the winter when gas needs are high and decreases in the summer when demand ebbs. The pattern has only grown more dramatic in recent years.
War in Ukraine also pushing up energy prices
The war in Ukraine is only adding to the upward pressure. European countries are looking for alternatives to Russia for sources of natural gas, meaning that already-high prices to ship liquefied supplies of the fuel are climbing even more.
Within the next few years, offshore wind is expected to help fill that load, but some regions continue to get as much as 20% of power from oil-burning plants. The electricity from those plants is expensive and is expected to become more costly with global oil prices nearly double what they were a year ago.
When compared to data going back to 2000, the projected rates will be the highest on record. Even in an apples-to-apples comparison of winter rates only, it still stands out, at nearly 50% higher than other recent peaks.
Regulators urge Consumers to Prepare for Rate Increases
Understanding why price increases happen is helpful for many but it doesn’t help pay the bills. Customers are encouraged to reduce usage through energy efficiency programs. By next winter, the price is projected to reach 14.5 cents pre kWh… It is a reflection of global energy markets.