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Energy wears on local wallets

Posted: December 28, 2012 9:37 a.m.
Updated: December 28, 2012 9:37 a.m.

It cost more to live in the greater Los Angeles area than in other parts of the country, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics confirmed Thursday.

And the gap between what people pay locally and nationally is widening.

For those living locally, reports of higher prices may not come as a surprise.

Local residents experienced sticker shock Oct. 5 when the price of unleaded gasoline jumped 17 cents per gallon overnight — and just kept climbing — on the premise that mandated summer blends were running out.

Several Santa Clarita Valley stations at the time were selling regular unleaded gas at $4.69 a gallon, according to

Although prices rose precipitously, they fell much more gradually.

The average price paid by L.A. drivers in November was $3.92 per gallon, according to the Consumer Price Index.

The national average was $3.54 per gallon.

A year ago, the difference between local and national gasoline prices was 34 cents per gallon. In 2012, the gap was 38 cents per gallon.

When it comes to electricity, however, local consumers pay far above the national average.

L.A.-area consumers paid nearly twice as much as the average national consumer — 66.1 percent more per kilowatt-hour of electricity in November, according to the Consumer Price Index — than did residents in the average U.S. city.

On average, Los Angeles residents paid 21.1 cents per kilowatt-hour, compared to the national average of 12.7 cents.

Residents in Santa Clarita, however, can pay anywhere between 13 and 31 cents per kilowatt-hour depending on which rate tier they land in based on energy use, according to rates posted on Southern California Edison’s website.

And those rates are going up another 5 percent for local residents due to a recent rate hike approval by the California Public Utilities Commission. The utility company had requested a 16 percent hike.

The only energy resource for which local residents paid nearly the same as the national average was natural gas used for heating or cooking purposes.

Nationwide, the average price per therm of gas — about 97 cubic feet of natural gas – was 99.4 cents. On average, L.A. residents paid 99.5 cents per therm.

While the gap between prices has been widening over the past year, there is better news for natural gas ratepayers.

Prices have actually dropped from a year ago and the gap between what consumers pay locally and nationwide has been shrinking.

Prices were tracked in L.A., Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties.





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