Michele Bachmann tapped into a source of national frustration last month when she pledged to bring back $2 per gallon gasoline. While Americans are struggling to make ends meet during these tough economic times, a return to reasonably priced gasoline would certainly help Americans reduce their monthly expenses without sacrificing valuable goods and services.
Yet three days of high-profile Republican meetings and a nationally televised debate in Orlando, Fla., later this week call attention to a less talked about but equally important energy issue: unnecessarily high electricity prices. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the retail price of electricity rose 48% between 1999 and 2009 (with 2009 being the most recent full-year data reported in EIA’s Electric Power Annual). Moreover, EIA reports a large discrepancy between electricity prices in individual states, with electricity prices ranging from 6.06 cents per kilowatt hour in Wyoming, to 18.06 cents per kilowatt hour in Connecticut, to 21.21 cents per kilowatt hour in Hawaii. The average price nationally was 9.83 cents per kilowatt hour.
So what does this have to do with the Republican presidential debate in Orlando? The answer is Florida provides a perfect example of how individual state policies drive much of consumer energy prices.