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Hawaii pays most for energy


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POSTED: Saturday, April 11, 2009

Hawaii residents and businesses pay significantly more for gasoline and electricity than those living in any other state in the nation, according to a survey released this week by the Small Business Entrepreneurship Council.

Hawaii topped the SBE Council's Energy Cost index, which surveyed how the cost of regular gas at the pump and the cost of electricity affect small businesses, families and individuals.

Hawaii's residents and businesses pay an average of $2.98 per kilowatt-hour for electricity, more than five times higher than the 58 cents paid by those living in Wyoming, the nation's lowest-cost state for electricity. The cost for gas in the islands, where the gas price index was 1.20, was also more than 30 percent higher in Hawaii than it was in Wyoming where the gas price index came in at .92.

As a result, Hawaii's total energy cost index is set at 4.18, nearly three times the energy cost index in Wyoming. Other lowest-cost states included: Idaho, Utah, Kentucky, West Virginia, Missouri, Nebraska, Indiana, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Arkansas, Kansas, South Carolina and Oklahoma.

Hawaii's energy costs are so high no other state even comes close to the premium paid by people living in the islands. The energy cost index for those living in Hawaii was 51 percent more than for those living in New York, the second-highest cost state. Hawaii's electricity index was 74 percent higher than New York's and the state's gas index was 13 percent higher. Other highest-cost states included: Connecticut, Alaska, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, California, New Jersey, Maine, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Delaware and Florida.

Raymond J. Keating, SBE Council chief economist and author of the report, said that energy costs are impacted by factors such as economic growth, investment, development and use of resources, political risks, as well as government mandates, regulation and taxes.

Making energy more affordable and abundant should be a key objective for policymakers that want to help small businesses survive the current economic turmoil and thrive once a recovery takes hold, Keating said.