Over most of the latter half of the twentieth century, the U.S. saw relatively stable electricity prices, at least compared to rising wages. Now USA Today reports that Americans on average have seen their electricity bills skyrocket in recent years.

Perhaps most shockingly, the news source calculates that the average bill has risen nearly $250 over the past two decades, growing from $1,172 annually in 1990 to $1,419 last year. In the meantime, electricity bills have risen to 1.5 percent of the average American family's overall costs.

Much of this stems from quickly rising electricity rates. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that in 2009, the latest full year's analysis, average electricity rates reached 9.82 cents per kilowatt-hour, up nearly 50 percent from 1999.

The biggest price rises have come in some states making use of electricity deregulation, such as New York, yet electricity bills also rose in states like California and Nevada, illustrating the influence of supply and demand. As electricity prices rise, one of the keys to combating this trend will be opening markets up to competition between electricity providers.