02/29/2024

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California Energy Price Data for March 2023

Below are the monthly updates from the most current March 2023 fuel price data (GasBuddy.com) and January 2023 electricity and natural gas price data (US Energy Information Administration). To view additional data and analysis related to the California economy visit our website at www.centerforjobs.org/ca.

The added costs under California policies and regulations continue to keep prices at the highest or near the highest among the contiguous states and DC across all energy sources.

Energy Price (12-month moving average) Rank Among Contiguous States/DC
Current Month Previous Month
Residential Electricity Rate 3rd 1st
Average Residential Electricity Bill 16th 17th
Commercial Electricity Rate 1st 1st
Industrial Electricity Rate 3rd 3rd
Residential Natural Gas Rate 5th 4th
Commercial Natural Gas Rate 5th 3rd
Industrial Natural Gas Rate 5th 4th
Gasoline 1st 1st
Diesel 1st 2nd

There was minor improvement in the rankings for natural gas and residential electricity as last year’s rise in natural gas prices began to be reflected in the data, especially for some of the New England states which have failed to invest in the required pipeline capacity to meet their economies’ needs.

In March, gasoline prices in California rose an average of 2.9% as production continued to shift to the more expensive summer formulation.  The most recent prices from CSAA show California prices largely unchanged as of April 5, easing 0.4% since the March average to $4.85.  US prices (all states including California) are at $3.53, up somewhat higher by 1.8%.  As the result of recent OPEC cuts combined with current policies dampening both US and California potential for a production response, prices are likely to resume rising in at least the near term including the pending gasoline and diesel tax increases scheduled for July.

The effect on prices from the new fuels tax hike recently passed in SBX1-2 also remains to be seen.  The possible effects are unlikely to be seen for at least the near term due to the complexity of the final version and time lag that will be required for the agencies to staff up for these new duties.  Longer term, it also remains to be seen whether this new tax, essentially an experiment in price control, will have the same effect as prior price control measures have had on dampening investment and worsening the supply issues contributing to higher prices in the first place.  The causes behind California’s higher gasoline prices—including the highest fuel taxes in the nation, substantially higher and constantly rising regulatory costs, and the subsequent effect on reducing in-state production capacity—have long been identified by the Energy Commission and repeatedly identified by investigations by previous Attorneys General.  The recent legislation does nothing to address these core issues, and instead has the potential to be yet another factor administered independently by yet another agency affecting the overall supply issues that led to last year’s price volatility.

Inflation at Highest Since 1991

6.0%
Annual Increase in
California CPI

For the 12 months ending January, the California CPI rose 6.0%, rising from 5.6% in December.  In the same period, the US CPI rose 6.4%, edging down from 6.5%. Looking at the period prior to 2022, California’s rate was the highest since January 1991.

California vs. Rest of US Fuel Price Gap at 45.0% Premium

$1.51
Price Per Gallon
Above US Average
(CA Average)

The March average price per gallon of regular gasoline in California rose 14 cents from February to $4.87.  The California premium above the average for the US other than California ($3.36) rose to $1.51, a 45.0% difference.

1st
Ranked By Price

In March, California had the highest gasoline price among the contiguous states and DC.  Californians paid $1.87 a gallon more than consumers in Mississippi, the state with the lowest price.

California vs. US Diesel Price

$1.30
Price Per Gallon
Above US Average
(CA Average)

The March average price per gallon of diesel in California eased 16 cents from February to $5.50.  The California premium above the average for the US other than California ($4.19) rose to $1.30 as diesel rose more slowly elsewhere, a 31.1% difference.

1st
Ranked by Price

In March, California had the highest diesel price among the contiguous states and DC.

Range Between Highest and Lowest Prices by Region

$1.65
Price per Gallon
above US Average
(Central Coast Region)

The cost premium above the US (other than California) average price for regular gasoline ranged from $1.43 in the Sacramento Region (average March price of $4.79), to $1.65 in Central Coast Region (average March price of $5.01).

Highest/Lowest Fuel Prices By Legislative District:

March 2023: Average Price ($ per gallon) of Regular Gasoline March 2023: Average Price ($ per gallon) of Regular Gasoline
Legislator Highest $ Per Gallon Legislator Lowest $ Per Gallon
CD02 Huffman (D) $5.08 CD07 Matsui (D) $4.74
CD11 Pelosi (D) $5.04 CD05 McClintock (R) $4.74
CD30 Schiff (D) $5.01 CD06 Bera (D) $4.72
CD15 Mullin (D) $5.00 CD09 Harder (D) $4.70
CD19 Panetta (D) $5.00 CD01 LaMalfa (R) $4.67
SD02 McGuire (D) $5.05 SD29 Newman (D) $4.77
SD24 Allen (D) $5.01 SD05 Eggman (D) $4.75
SD13 Becker (D) $5.01 SD06 Niello (R) $4.75
SD17 Laird (D) $5.01 SD08 Ashby (D) $4.73
SD11 Wiener (D) $5.00 SD01 Dahle (R) $4.70
AD02 Wood (D) $5.13 AD07 Hoover (R) $4.70
AD51 Zbur (D) $5.09 AD10 Nguyen (D) $4.69
AD30 Addis (D) $5.08 AD13 Villapudua (D) $4.68
AD17 Haney (D) $5.06 AD22 Alanis (R) $4.68
AD77 Boerner Horvath (D) $5.05 AD03 Gallagher (R) $4.58

California Residential Electricity Price

81.3%
Above Average For
Rest of US

California average Residential Price for the 12 months ended January 2023 was 26.43 cents/kWh, 81.3% higher than the US average of 14.58 cents/kWh for all states other than California.  California’s residential prices were the 3rd highest among the contiguous states and DC.

California Residential Electric Bill

16th
Ranked by Cost

For the 12 months ended January 2023, the average annual Residential electricity bill in California was $1,717, or 72.7% higher ($723) than the comparable bill in 2010 (the year the AB 32 implementation began with the Early Action items).  In this same period, the average US (less CA) electricity bill for all the other states grew only 20.4% ($279).

In 2010, California had the 9th lowest residential electricity bill in the nation.  In the latest data, it had the 16th highest.

Residential bills, however, vary widely by region, with the estimated annual household usage in the recent released data for 2020 as much as 78% higher in the interior regions compared to the milder climate coastal areas, and substantially higher when comparing across counties.

$10.7b
Premium Above
US Average Price

For the 12 months ended January 2023, California’s higher electricity prices translated into Residential ratepayers paying $10.7 billion more than the average ratepayers elsewhere in the US using the same amount of energy.

California Commercial Electricity Price

85.9%
Above Average for
Rest Of US

California average Commercial Price for the 12 months ended January 2023 was 21.95 cents/kWh, 85.9% higher than the US average of 11.81 cents/kWh for all states other than California.  California’s commercial prices were the highest among the contiguous states and DC.

California Industrial Electricity Price

116.9%
Above Average for
Rest of US

California average Industrial Price for the 12 months ended January 2023 was 17.57 cents/kWh, 116.9% higher than the US average of 8.10 cents/kWh for all states other than California.  California’s industrial prices were the 3rd highest among the contiguous states and DC.

$16.0b
Premium Above
US Average Price

For the 12 months ended January 2023, California’s higher electricity prices translated into Commercial & Industrial ratepayers paying $16.0 billion more than ratepayers elsewhere in the US using the same amount of energy.  Compared to the lowest rate states, Commercial & Industrial ratepayers paid $20.9 billion more.

California Natural Gas Prices

Residential Commercial Industrial
CA, January 2023 $20.51 $16.09 $16.20
CA, January 2022 $17.06 $12.62 $10.22
Change 20.2% 27.5% 58.5%
Rest of US, January 2023 $12.43 $9.84 $10.89
Rest of US, January 2022 $12.20 $9.01 $5.70
Change 1.9% 9.2% 91.1%
CA premium over Rest of US, January 2023 65.0% 63.5% 48.8%
CA premium over Rest of US, January 2022 39.8% 40.1% 79.3%