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FRI Public Utility Symposium Sept. 25, 2019

Dozen Quarter Streak Below 1.4%

The third quarter this year, ending September 30, was the two hundred and thirty-ninth quarter since the U.S. Commerce Department started publishing a detailed breakout of the Gross Domestic Product’s consumption expenditure data. Since the first quarter of 1959.

In all those quarters, electric bills were never below 1.4 percent of Americans’ consumption expenditures until the first quarter of 2002. In that quarter and again in the third quarter of 2004, electric bills were just 1.38 percent of expenditures.

But that was it, for more than a decade, until the fourth quarter of 2015. Not until then did electric bills fall again below 1.4 percent of expenditures.

However, in the last dozen quarters, starting with that fourth quarter of 2015, electric bills were less than 1.4 percent of expenditures in all but one of those quarters.

This streak of a dozen quarters is unprecedented. During the streak, the all-time low was set, when electric bills were as low as 1.29 percent of expenditures in the first quarter of 2017. The electric bill percentage also dipped below 1.35 percent in the third quarter of 2017 and the first quarter of 2018.

We didn’t get quite that low in the quarter just ended on September 30. But we got close. In both the second quarter and the third quarter of this year, the electric bill percentage was 1.35 percent, on the dot.

It’s great for the American household when the electric bill percentage is this low and is this low for this long. It means there’s more to spend on all other consumer goods and services.


Do you work at a utility? This year, we’re significantly raising the rate for individual subscriptions to Public Utilities Fortnightly and phasing them out for anyone at an organization with over a hundred employees — utilities and non-utilities alike. We’ll make it easy and economical for your company to sign up for an organization-wide membership that’ll cover any and all employees.

Steve Mitnick, Editor-in-Chief, Public Utilities Fortnightly, and President, Lines Up, Inc.
E-mail me: mitnick@fortnightly.com