This story has been updated.
High energy bills got you down? You’re not alone. In fact, Georgians’ monthly energy costs are the highest in the South and among the most expensive in the nation, when factoring in all sources — gasoline, natural gas, electricity and others.
That’s according to a new ranking from personal finance website WalletHub, for which analysts compared the average monthly energy bills in each of the 50 states plus the District of Columbia using data on the following factors:
- Average monthly consumption of electricity
- Average retail price of electricity
- Average monthly consumption of natural gas
- Average residential price of natural gas
- Average monthly consumption of home heating oil
- Average residential price of home heating oil
- Average motor fuel price
- Average miles traveled and fuel consumption
- Number of drivers in the state
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While residents of Wyoming bear the biggest energy cost burden with a $372 total energy cost, Georgians aren’t too far behind.
The state ranked third overall, after Connecticut. That’s three spots up from last year’s No. 6 rank.
Here’s more on how Georgia fared:
- Total energy cost: $349
- Monthly electricity cost and rank: $154 (4)
- Monthly natural gas cost and rank: $39 (11)
- Monthly motor fuel cost and rank: $157 (15)
- Monthly home heating oil cost and rank: $0 (42)
- Price of electricity rank: 29
- Electricity consumption per consumer rank: 7
- Motor fuel consumption per driver rank: 10
- Price of natural gas rank: 4
The District of Columbia ($203) Colorado ($252) and Washington ($253) ranked among the nation’s least energy-expensive regions, according to the analysis.
This July, you’re likely to consume more energy than any other month this year, according to the United States Energy Information Administration. August is the month with the second-highest energy consumption.
But why do energy costs vary across the country?
According to University of Southern California professor Lisa Schweitzer, “transport and access make a fairly large difference in many states for gasoline costs.”
Brown University professor Matthew Turner also told WalletHub that costs “tend to be higher in states that mandate the use of renewable energy,” which “is cleaner and contributes less to global warming.”
“Coal and gas fired power cost about the same and gas fired power puts a tiny fraction of the poisonous soot into the atmosphere as coal, and around half the CO2,” Turner said.
In July 2016, Georgia’s Public Service Commission approved a plan mandating Georgia Power to increase reliance on solar, wind and other renewable sources for electricity. The revised plan was “three times bigger” than the original, The AJC previously reported.
“There are big differences between the power-generating capacity of traditional and renewable energy power plants. Most nuclear and gas-fired plants run full-time, so 1 megawatt from those plants supplies about 1,000 homes,” The AJC’s Russell Grantham wrote in 2017. “Most renewable energy plants only produce when the wind blows or the sun shines, so 1 megawatt from those plants supplies homes only part of the day, or in effect significantly fewer homes. But solar and wind-powered installations also are much cheaper and quicker to build and run. Georgia Power expects contracts to supply 1,050 megawatts of green energy to cost about $2 billion.”
“As a large electric service provider in Georgia (one of among nearly 100 co-ops and municipal electric systems in the state), Georgia Power’s electric rates are 14 percent below the national average,” company spokesman John Kraft told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “The company’s base electric rates have been frozen since 2016 and will not be adjusted until 2020 at the earliest.”
Both Georgia Power and the Georgia Public Service Commission have teamed up to help expand the state’s renewable energy resources “using innovative approaches that do not put upward pressure on electric rates,” Kraft said.
A previous version of this story did not include comment from Georgia Power. The story has been updated.