We've written a lot in these pages about Kentucky having
the lowest average electric rates in the nation.
Well, new figures from the U.S. Department of Energy
also show that electric cooperatives in Kentucky have the lowest rates compared
with co-ops in other states.
Writing about average rates gets confusing because
averages lump so many things together. Average means some rates are higher, and
some lower, than that average figure. Rate averages also group together different
types of utilities, and different types of customers. But the overall point made
by these comparisons is that however you figure it, Kentuckians have the best
Since last spring we've known that the average Kentuckian
pays lower residential electric rates than the average resident of any other state.
The new figures show that the average Kentucky electric co-op member pays lower
rates than the average electric co-op member in any other state.
That proves that electric co-ops are part of the reason
Kentucky has the lowest electric rates.
In some cases, electric co-op rates may be higher than
those of nearby investor-owned or publicly owned utilities. That's because co-ops
tend to serve areas out in the country where there are fewer customers per mile
of line. But these new averages show that when you compare co-ops to co-ops, Kentuckians
still have the best rates in the nation.
An interesting feature of these new figures is that
they come from a final Department of Energy report for the year 2000. That was
actually before the 2001 California energy crisis pushed rates higher in the Pacific
Northwest, giving Kentucky the best average rates. (The figures showing Kentucky
having the lowest rates come from more recent, month-by-month preliminary estimates.
The report with the year 2000 figures provides more detail.)
If you want the details of these new figures you can
find them in Electric Sales and Revenue 2000 by the DOE's Energy Information
Administration. The report can be found on the Internet at www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/esr/esr.pdf.
Energy Department rate reports
June 2001: January 2001 preliminary estimates published,
showing Kentucky has lowest rates
January 2002: Final figures published for 2000,
showing Kentucky co-ops have lower rates than co-ops in other states