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Electricity Prices Slowing Down for 2013


By Steven Johnson ELECTRIC CO-OP TODAY


R


atepayers across the country are getting a bit of a break on the price of electricity, according to a recent study.


The Energy Information Administration (EIA) said the pace of residential electricity price increases will slow in 2013.


The EIA reported in December 2012 that it expects residential retail electricity prices to increase by an average of 1.2 percent this year, and by 1.6 percent in 2013. That’s a sharp dip from the 2007-2011 period, when residential prices jumped by an average of 2.4 percent every year.


The EIA's Short-Term Energy Outlook anticipates prices across the country to average 11.86 cents per kilowatt- hour (kwh) in 2012, and to rise slightly to 12.05 cents per kwh in 2013.


For Kiamichi Electric Cooperative residential members, the price was less, an average of 10.7 cents per kwh last year.


Prices in the industrial and commercial sectors also are holding steady, and the 2012 numbers actually will decline from 2011, the EIA said.


The national average industrial price of electricity was 6.82 cents per kwh in 2011. It dipped to 6.67 cents per kwh in 2012, and hopped up to 6.80 cents per kwh in 2013.


Nationwide, projected prices for commercial accounts in 2012 averaged 10.12 cents per kwh, a slight dip from 10.23 cents


Survey Says Co-ops are Tops


Touchstone Energy co-ops. T


per kwh in 2011. The agency predicts this will increase to 10.28 cents per kwh in 2013.


The EIA attributes the welcome price drops to cheap and plentiful natural gas. Producing power from natural gas will cost generators just $3.46 per million Btu in 2012, or $1.27 per million Btu less than in 2011. As a result, natural gas now accounts for about 31 percent of electric generation, EIA reported. The agency indicates this will decline in coming years, if the cost of fuel starts to increase.


The average prices fail to account for regional variances, which can vary dramatically. For instance, the average retail price of electricity for New England residents will be 15.62 cents per kwh in 2013, though that still marks a 0.25 cents per kwh drop from 2011. In contrast, residents of the Mountain West will pay about 11.19 cents per kwh in 2013, the EIA said. ■


In the third quarter of 2012, Touchstone Energy co-ops tied their all-time high showing in the ACSI. The organization annually surveys some 70,000 consumers, gaging their attitudes toward more than 200 companies.


“If it’s in your garage, or on a shelf at home, it’s in ACSI,” noted Tim Sullivan, Touchstone Energy C&I development director.


Touchstone Energy co-ops scored an 83 in the third quarter ACSI. At the same time, the investor-owned utility average was 76, a gap that Sullivan takes pride in.


“The difference between the Touchstone Energy score and the investor- owned utility average jumped to seven points,” Sullivan said. “From a branding perspective, that’s what we mean when we say ‘the cooperative difference.’ It’s not a slogan; it’s real.”


The top utility, with an 85, was Atmos Energy, which provides only natural gas. Another IOU, Sempra Energy, was at 84. Touchstone Energy and investor-owned CenterPoint Energy were tied at 83.


“We’re third-best in the entire industry,” Sullivan noted.


Digging down into the particular questions ACSI asks, members gave co-ops high marks for value. The “value” score shot up from 77 to 81 in the past year.


ENERGY EFFICIENCY Tip of the Month


Your heat pump can use 10 percent to 25 percent more energy if it’s not properly maintained. That means regularly checking and replacing the air filter when it’s dirty to keep parts from working too hard or even becoming damaged. Keep brush and plants tidy around the outdoor unit, and dust the return registers inside. For more details on heat pump maintenance, visit EnergySavers.gov. —U.S. Department of Energy


“Consumers perceive they’re getting greater value and a better utility provider with cooperatives,” Sullivan said.


Satisfaction with Touchstone Energy co-ops is also outpacing some other famous brands. For example, Southwest Airlines’ 2012 score was 77, McDonald’s got a 73, and Facebook received a 61.


Light Post | february 2013 | 7


he new American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) score shows high satisfaction among members of


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