Electricity prices rise at fastest pace in years

The average price of residential electricity rose at the highest rate in five years in the first six months of 2014, the government reported Tuesday.

Prices averaged 12.3 cents per kilowatt hour in the first six months of 2014, a 3.2 percent increase from the same period a year prior, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said. That’s the largest increase since 2009.

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New England saw the largest average increase of 11.8 percent. Prices grew in all census divisions except the Pacific contiguous area, which includes California, Oregon and Washington.

Nearly all New England states allow customers to buy their power generation from different companies than the regulated utilities, the EIA said. More than a quarter of customers do that.

“The primary driver of the recent increase in New England retail rates was the sharp rise in wholesale power prices,” the EIA said. Wholesale power prices grew 45 percent in the time period the EIA compared, and the energy-only costs from those restructured suppliers rose 21 percent.

But the delivery component of those companies’ bills only increased by 2 percent.

The price decreases in the Pacific were distorted, the agency said.

“The 2.5 percent year-to-date decline in Pacific residential electricity prices is distorted by a temporary dip in revenues for California utilities during the month of April,” the EIA wrote.