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Short-Term Energy Outlook

Release Date: June 9, 2015  |  Next Release Date: July 7, 2015  |  Full Report    |   Text Only   |   All Tables   |   All Figures


Summer Residential Electricity Outlook

EIA forecasts that the average U.S. residential electricity customer will spend 4.8% more during the upcoming summer months (June, July, and August) than during the same period last year. This increase in the average residential bill reflects a projected 2.6% increase in average electricity usage and a 2.1% increase in the average retail price of electricity.

There is wide variation in the average electricity usage projections, with the typical residential customer in the Pacific states consuming 1.9% less electricity than last summer, while customers in the East North Central area consume 6.3% more electricity. Electricity prices in all areas of the United States except for the Middle Atlantic and the East South Central are expected to be higher this summer than last summer. Residential customers in New England are expected to see the largest increase in electricity bills because of a 15.4% projected increase in summer retail prices. Customers in the West South Central states are expected to experience the lowest overall increase in average electricity bills this summer (2.1%).

Electricity Consumption

NOAA projects warmer temperatures this summer than during last year's mild summer. U.S. cooling degree days during June, July, and August of 2015 are projected to total 7.3% more than the same period last year. Higher temperatures should lead to increased use of electricity for air conditioning. EIA forecasts U.S. retail sales of electricity to the residential sector in June, July, and August to average 3.5% more than last summer. Forecast annual U.S. residential electricity sales during 2015 average 0.2% higher than in 2014. EIA expects U.S. retail sales of electricity to the commercial and industrial sectors to grow by 1.6% and 0.4%, respectively, during 2015.

Electricity Generation

Total U.S. generation of electricity is forecast to average about 11,309 gigawatt hours per day (GWh/d) in 2015, which is 0.8% higher than total generation last year. EIA forecasts coal's share of U.S. total generation will average 35.6% in 2015, down from 38.7% in 2014. In contrast, the natural gas fuel share averages 30.9% this year, up from 27.4% in 2014.

Electricity Retail Prices

EIA projects the U.S. retail price of electricity to the residential sector to average 2.3% more than in 2014. Utilities and retail suppliers in the New England states, especially Massachusetts, significantly increased electricity rates for residential customers late last year in anticipation of a repeat of winter price spikes in the regional wholesale power market. However, New England wholesale prices during the first quarter of 2015 averaged about half the level as in the same period last year, and EIA forecasts that these cost savings should be passed on to retail customers by the end of 2015.

U.S. Electricity Summary
  2013 2014 2015 2016
Retail Prices (cents per kilowatthour)
Residential Sector 12.12 12.50 12.79 13.09
Commercial Sector 10.28 10.75 10.79 10.95
Industrial Sector 6.84 7.01 6.88 6.96
Power Generation Fuel Costs (dollars per million Btu)
Coal 2.34 2.36 2.30 2.31
Natural Gas 4.33 4.98 3.86 4.13
Residual Fuel Oil 19.32 19.18 11.51 12.66
Distillate Fuel Oil 23.05 22.34 15.41 16.53
Generation (billion kWh per day)
Coal 4.332 4.344 4.025 4.042
Natural Gas 3.082 3.074 3.493 3.411
Nuclear 2.162 2.184 2.142 2.121
Conventional Hydroelectric 0.736 0.709 0.697 0.732
Renewable (non-hydroelectric) 0.695 0.770 0.813 0.902
Total Generation 11.140 11.214 11.309 11.340
Retail Sales (billion kWh per day)
Residential Sector 3.82 3.84 3.85 3.82
Commercial Sector 3.68 3.72 3.78 3.82
Industrial Sector 2.68 2.62 2.63 2.66
Total Retail Sales 10.21 10.20 10.28 10.32
Primary Assumptions (percent change from previous year)
Real DIsposable Personal Income -0.2 2.5 3.3 2.2
Manufacturing Production Index 2.9 3.8 2.2 3.4
Cooling Degree Days -12.6 -0.4 7.3 -2.0
Heating Degree Days 18.5 1.9 -3.0 -4.2
Number of Households 0.7 0.8 0.7 0.8

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