(Keep reading to the bottom:  There’s an update down there, made in response to some pushback, that undoes my whole argument!)

Any time I talk to anybody about energy, I hear lamentation about New Hampshire’s electricity prices. After all, our per-kilowatt charge is just about the highest of any state in the country, and everybody hates sending more money to their utility.

But here’s the thing: New Hampshire’s monthly electric *bills* are only average. I don’t know about you, but it’s the size of my bill – the amount of money I have to send to Eversource each month – that matters to me, not the size of the per-kilowatt-hour rate.

2016 data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (the table is here)  shows that the average monthly electric bill in New Hampshire was $110.95, which is below the national average of  $112.57. It’s less than the monthly average in 25 other states (and also Alaska and Hawaii, which are such outliers in terms of high energy costs due to their geography that they should be in a different category).

Why is this? Because we’re pretty efficient – we generate a lot of wealth and business while using relatively little electricity. Overall, New England uses the least electricity per capita of any region in the country, according to that same 2016 EIA data.

So the next time you hear sometime ranting about how we need to immediately do X, Y and Z because our high electric rates are bankrupting everybody, point to Florida. It has *much* lower electric rates – 11 cents per kWh compared to our 18.4 cents – and yet its average electric bill was much higher: $123 per month vs. $110 in New Hampshire. This is the pattern in two dozen other states, as well. We are not actually paying more money for the electricity that creates our economy.

Then pat yourself and everybody around you on the back, because we’re smart enough to value Yankee thrift. As mom always said: Waste not, want not.

UPDATE: Several people have responded that I’m missing an important point: Florida has a lot more air conditioning than we do but doesn’t burn heating oil in winter. If you measure total energy usage, not just electricity, they say, we don’t look so good.

How to factor that? Compare our electricity usage to states with roughly comparable annual weather – which I estimate by counting electricity bills in just the two states closest to the Canadian border, from east to west. When I do that for 22 states (ignoring Alaska), I find that our monthly bill is lower than 6 states but higher than 16 – so it looks like we shouldn’t pat ourselves on the back, after all!

Here is a cut and paste of the average monthly bill for those 22 states, with bills higher than NH in bold and with a plus sign:

New Hampshire 110.95

+ Connecticut 142.19
Maine 86.48
+ Massachusetts 113.77
Rhode Island 109.02
Vermont 95.31

New York 104.58
+ Pennsylvania 116.67

Illinois 91.83
+ Indiana 114.96
Michigan 101.64
+ Ohio 111.15
Wisconsin 96.08

Iowa 103.17
Minnesota 96.79
North Dakota 106.28
+ South Dakota 112.53

Montana 88.95
Wyoming 94.66
Idaho 94.90
Oregon 96.71
Washington 90.56

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