Retail Electricity Prices, Relative To National Average

Source: Author analysis based on data from EIA and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (2014) EIA, May 2016 Monthly Energy Review

In the early days of electricity, it was difficult to transmit electricity long distances. So it made sense to build power plants close to population centers and transport fuel over these great distances via rail or barge. Over time it got cheaper to transmit electricity, but the regulatory framework has been slow to catch up and largely continues to treat power generation as a local issue.

Twenty-five counties in just a handful of states produce two-thirds of our nation’s coal and then ship it to power plants all throughout the country. The farther away a plant is from a mine, the greater the coal—and with it, electricity—costs. It costs nearly five times more to buy coal in Maine than in Wyoming.

Much like coal, wind and solar resources are distributed unevenly throughout the country. Unlike coal, one can’t put the wind or sun on a rail car. Without a transmission network to import electricity from renewables-rich regions, solar and wind resources aren’t being put to good use.

Read more in the Forbes piece “How Going Local Is Hamstringing The Clean Energy Transition” by EPIC’s Steve Cicala.

Areas of Focus: Energy Markets
Definition
Energy Markets
Well-functioning markets are essential for providing access to reliable, affordable energy. EPIC research is uncovering the policies, prices and information needed to help energy markets work efficiently.
Renewable Energy
Definition
Renewable Energy
Lower technology costs and supportive public policies are driving an increase in renewable energy in markets around the world. EPIC research is assessing the costs, benefits, and efficiency of policies...
Definition
Well-functioning markets are essential for providing access to reliable, affordable energy. EPIC research is uncovering the policies, prices and information needed to help energy markets work efficiently.