Facts are under assault in 2020.

We can't fight back misinformation about the election and COVID-19 without you. Support trusted, factual information with a tax deductible contribution to PolitiFact

More Info

I would like to contribute

California's residential and industrial sectors have some of the lowest average electricity bills in the nation, ranking 40th and 42nd respectively, a far cry from “the highest.” California's residential and industrial sectors have some of the lowest average electricity bills in the nation, ranking 40th and 42nd respectively, a far cry from “the highest.”

California's residential and industrial sectors have some of the lowest average electricity bills in the nation, ranking 40th and 42nd respectively, a far cry from “the highest.”

Chris Nichols
By Chris Nichols November 16, 2017

Do Californians pay the ‘highest electricity bills’ in the nation?

Californians pay a premium to live in the Golden State.

Our housing costs are astronomical, gas prices are the highest in the nation and many state taxes are at or near the top.

In a recent interview on Capital Public Radio, Republican candidate for governor John Cox said he wants to reduce the financial strain on Californians.

"The state has been rendered unaffordable by the politicians in Sacramento. It’s got the worst business climate in the nation. We’re a laughing stock. And I want to change that," Cox, a San Diego businessman, said in the interview conducted Oct. 21, 2017.

Cox cited several of the state’s high costs from housing to gas prices. We fact-checked those in a related article. He went on to say, however, that Californians also pay "the highest electricity bills" in the country.

California, the center of the nation’s solar industry, is known for both producing and consuming huge amounts of electricity.

But do we also pay the most on our electricity bills?

We decided to shine a light on this claim.

Our research

California has the nation’s sixth highest retail price of electricity in the residential sector, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which provides independent analysis of energy data.

So, one might assume with this high cost Californians also pay more than most states on their bills.

In fact, it’s just the opposite, at least for two key sectors.  

California’s average residential monthly electricity bill in 2016 was $95.20, or less expensive than 39 other states, according to EIA data. Nationwide, the average bill was $112.59 per month.

Featured Fact-check

Meanwhile, the state’s average industrial monthly electricity bill was $3,408, or 42nd in the nation. That was about half the national average.

California’s average commercial monthly electricity bill was $866, or fifth highest in the nation, much closer to the top, but by no means "the highest."

"California has some of the highest rates, but they also have some of the lowest consumption per customer, so they have lower bills than most states," said Marc Hanish, an EIA expert on state electricity profiles.

Indeed, California ranks 49th in the nation in per capita electricity consumption. Hanish said that’s driven both by high prices and by the state’s strong commitment to energy efficient buildings and appliances.

Cox’s campaign did not respond to requests for comment.

Our ruling

Candidate for governor John Cox recently claimed California has "the highest electricity bills" in the country.

Data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows California’s average monthly electricity bills in 2016 ranked far below the national average, particularly in the residential and industrial sectors. They were 40th and 42nd, respectively. The state’s average monthly commercial electricity bills were more expensive, at fifth highest, though still not "the highest" as Cox claimed.

California’s electricity prices are more expensive than in many states. Customers in the state, however, consume far less electricity than the national average, which drives down the cost of bills.

Even if Cox had claimed California had the highest electricity rates, he would still be off the mark.

Cox’s campaign offered no evidence to back up his claim.

We rate it False.


FALSE – The statement is not accurate.

Click here for more on the six PolitiFact ratings and how we select facts to check.

Share the Facts
2
1
7
PolitiFact rating logo PolitiFact Rating:
False
Californians pay "the highest electricity bills" in the nation.
Saturday, October 21, 2017

Our Sources

Capital Public Radio, Interview with Jon Cox, Nov. 3, 2017

Marc Hanish, expert on state electricity profiles, U.S. Energy Information Agency, interview Nov. 14, 2017

U.S. Energy Information Agency, 2016 Average Monthly Bill - Residential, accessed November 2017

U.S. Energy Information Agency, 2016 Average Monthly Bill - Commercial, accessed November 2017

U.S. Energy Information Agency, 2016 Average Monthly Bill - Industrial, accessed November 2017

Electricity Local, California Electricity Rates & Consumption, accessed November 2017

CNBC Article, California has glut of electricity, Feb. 6, 2017

Los Angeles Times, Californians are paying billions for power they don’t need, Feb. 5, 2017

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Chris Nichols

Do Californians pay the ‘highest electricity bills’ in the nation?

Support independent fact-checking.
Become a member!

In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.

Sign me up