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Regional Variation in Gasoline and Electricity Prices in the United States

Submitted by on June 1, 2012 – 6:46 pm 3 Comments |  
Regional differences in the price of gasoline in the United States are often discussed, with many observers noting that higher prices tend to be found in left-leaning states that have more stringent regulations and higher taxes.  Maps of gasoline price, such as those supplied by GasBuddy.com tend to bear out this generalization, although some exceptions are evident. Democratic-voting Minnesota, for example, has lower gasoline prices than Republican-voting Indiana. (GasBuddy also provides highly detailed local maps of gasoline prices, updated regularly.)

Less often discussed is the fact that electricity prices in the United States vary vastly more than do gasoline prices. Here, political correlations are weak to non-existent, while variation within some states is profound. Price differentials here are partly rooted in the source of electrical power.  Low prices in Washington state in the northwest, for example, reflect the cheap and renewable power generated by massive dams on the Columbia River.

Electricity price differences across Texas are especially notable, a topic that would merit further exploration.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Peter-Rosa/1593565364 Peter Rosa

    When it comes to gasoline and other petroleum products the Pacific Coast is essentially a separate market from the rest of the United States as there are no pipelines crossing the Rocky Mountains. There is very little pipeline capacity in the New England states, so they get their gasoline and other petroleum products delivered by sea, either via tankers from the Gulf Coast refineries or via barges from the New Jersey pipeline terminals.  I believe the same is true for most of Florida.

    • http://www.pereltsvaig.com Asya Pereltsvaig

      Thank you for your insightful comment, Peter! This certainly explains some of the patterns on the first map, though not all.

  • http://profiles.google.com/jdavidowitz Joshua Davidowitz

    Alaska is missing from both maps and just Hawai’i in the electricity map? What happened there?

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