- 9 of the top 10 most expensive states for electricity were blue states.
- On average, blue states pay 37% more than red states for electricity.
- 59% of people are dissatisfied with the current state of utility costs in their community.
- 81% feel that the local government should be doing more to control the cost of utilities.
Who Gets a Raw Deal on Energy
Energy prices have been on the rise for many reasons. On top of the impacts of inflation and the war in Ukraine on Americans’ monthly utility bills, extreme weather has strained the nation’s power grids. But in which states are residents suffering the steepest financial consequences, and what are their political leanings? Are they voting for change?
We recently collected electricity cost and usage data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) and factored in the politics of each state. We also surveyed more than 1,000 Americans about their views on utility costs and if it impacts their vote come election time. Let’s find out if there are any correlations.
Republicans Are Red, Democrats Are Blue…
First, we determined which states were red (Republican) and blue (Democrat), and gathered the most recently available monthly energy costs for each. Let’s see if residents’ political affiliations might have any connection to their energy bills.
In November 2022, Hawaii residents spent the most money powering their homes. With a cost of 44 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), this blue state ended up with the highest monthly bills of any other state, on average. But this likely didn’t have anything to do with the fact that the state’s voters lean Democrat; Hawaii has to import oil from the mainland, which makes it more expensive than it is in other states.
Electricity was far more affordable in the northwest corner of the U.S., where residents of Idaho (red) and Washington (blue) both enjoyed a low cost of just 10 cents per kWh, allowing for the cheapest monthly bills of all. But of the 25 states with the lowest electricity prices, only six were blue:
- New Mexico
There was a similar pattern among the 25 states with the highest prices. The list only included six red states:
This reflects our finding that, on average, blue states pay 37% more than red states for electricity. Why might that be?
Putting a Price on Politics
With how expensive energy is lately for U.S. households, are Americans voting for change? Let’s see how they’re prioritizing lowering their utility costs and whether they consider it during election time.
Our survey findings track with recent news about Americans struggling to afford their energy bills. The majority of those we surveyed (59%) said they’re dissatisfied with their utility costs, especially that of electricity (74%). And even though most of the states with the lowest electricity bills were red, Republicans were somewhat more likely to express dissatisfaction with utility costs than Democrats: 65% compared to 57%.
But both parties were somewhat aligned on what to do about the issue. Overall, 81% said their local government should do more to control utility costs. Only slightly fewer Republicans shared this sentiment (75%) than Democrats (88%). In addition, 30% of all respondents said they were “very” to “extremely likely” to vote for a political party or candidate promising lower utility prices. Nearly as many Democrats said so (30%) as Republicans (35%).
Local legislation can be a big factor in deciding energy costs. But in some areas of the country, other factors have more influence — especially in Texas. We’ll explain that next.
Life on the Grid
The U.S. power system relies on three major components: the Eastern Interconnection, the Western Interconnection, and the Texas Interconnection. So, why does Texas have its own system, and how do these networks impact energy prices?
When we compared Americans’ electricity consumption by the power grid that supplied it, we found that the independent Texas Interconnection uses more energy monthly than the Eastern or Western grids. This demand is why Texas residents have higher estimated electricity bills than their neighbors, even though they don’t pay the highest energy prices per kWh. The Eastern Interconnection was the most expensive, at 17 cents per kWh. Hawaii (the state with the highest electric bills last November) is on a separate grid, which helps explain their comparatively higher costs.
So, why doesn’t Texas use one of the other two grids? The answer to that brings us back to politics. When states began regulating power in the early 20th century, Texas power companies merged and began limiting energy sales to within state borders. This way, they were able to dodge federal regulations. And because of its size and energy resources, Texas has been the only state able to pull it off for this long.
Energy prices in Texas vary from year to year and with each season. But its high rate of energy consumption and the increased price of natural gas mean it’s more important than ever for residents to ensure they’re getting the lowest possible price.
Voting for Lower Energy Bills?
The states with the highest electricity bills were overwhelmingly blue (Democratic), while those with the most affordable prices were nearly all red (Republican). So, considering Republicans were the least satisfied with their utility prices, do their electric bills tend to be lower because they’ve taken political action in their respective states?
Not likely. Of those who were the most likely to vote on the matter, nearly as many were Democrats as Republicans. Meanwhile, Texas residents are prone to costlier bills than the rest of the U.S. because of the unique energy demands in their state. No one wants to overpay to power their homes, but one thing’s for sure: If your utility costs are on the ballot, your vote could help lower them!
We collected data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) and the EIA to estimate average monthly electricity bills. We also collected data on states’ political leanings to compare the cost of electricity to the political leanings of each state (Note: “Purple” states, typically considered neither red nor blue, were defined as red or blue based on vote percentage for each presidential candidate.)
A survey of 1,020 Americans was conducted to explore how the cost of utilities impacts political views. Of the respondents, 38% were Democrats, 35% were Republicans, 21% were Independents, and 5% were non-affiliated.
About Payless Power
Texas residents shouldn’t pay more for power than the rest of the nation. That’s why Payless Power offers affordable, reliable power at rates that fit any budget.
Fair Use Statement
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