‹ Analysis & Projections

Short-Term Energy and Summer Fuels Outlook

Release Date: April 7, 2015  |  Next Release Date: May 12, 2015  |  Full Report    |   Text Only   |   All Tables   |   All Figures

Electricity

Residential electricity prices increased during 2014, with growth ranging from 1.3% in the Pacific Coast states to 9.8% in New England. Retail electricity rates have risen for various reasons. Many electric utilities purchase their power from regional wholesale electricity markets, which experienced higher prices last year. Other reasons commonly cited for higher retail electricity prices are the increased investment in transmission and distribution infrastructure, rising requirements to generate electricity from renewable energy sources, and utility investment in demand-side efficiency.

Electricity Consumption

Retail sales of electricity to the residential sector during the first quarter of 2015 are estimated to be 2.3% lower than sales during the same period in 2014, as average U.S. temperatures this winter were milder than last winter despite colder-than-normal February temperatures in most of the eastern United States. EIA expects U.S. retail residential sales of electricity for the remaining nine months of 2015 will average 1.8% more than the same period last year. Residential sales are forecast to fall by 0.5% in 2016. Projected U.S. sales of electricity to the commercial sector increase by 1.7% this year and by 1.4% in 2016. Projected industrial electricity sales rise by 1.3% in 2015 and by 1.1% in 2016.

Electricity Generation

The use of natural gas for power generation has exceeded expectations in recent months, and as a result, EIA has raised its projections for natural-gas-fired generation from last month's STEO. During the first quarter of 2015, EIA estimates that natural gas accounted for 28.5% of total generation, which is substantially higher than the 23.6% fuel share during the first quarter of 2014. This increased use of natural gas is driven by lower fuel costs. The Henry Hub natural gas price averaged $2.90/MMBtu in the first quarter of this year compared with $5.20/MMBtu during the same period of 2014. EIA expects the natural gas fuel share to average 30.4% for all of 2015, up from 27.4% during 2014. In contrast, the share of total generation fueled by coal falls from 38.7% in 2014 to 35.8% this year.

Electricity Retail Prices

Residential electricity rates in New England have continued to increase, with the January 2015 price averaging about 10% more than the price in November 2014. For the United States as a whole, EIA expects continued growth in average residential electricity prices over the forecast period, albeit at a slower pace than last year. The U.S. retail residential price is projected to increase by 1.4% in 2015 and by 1.8% in 2016.

U.S. Electricity Summary
  2013 2014 2015 2016
Retail Prices (cents per kilowatthour)
Residential Sector 12.12 12.50 12.68 12.90
Commercial Sector 10.28 10.75 10.54 10.65
Industrial Sector 6.84 7.01 6.79 6.88
Power Generation Fuel Costs (dollars per million Btu)
Coal 2.34 2.36 2.31 2.33
Natural Gas 4.33 4.98 3.97 4.25
Residual Fuel Oil 19.32 19.18 11.16 12.68
Distillate Fuel Oil 23.05 22.34 15.61 18.60
Generation (billion kWh per day)
Coal 4.332 4.344 4.060 4.135
Natural Gas 3.082 3.074 3.448 3.377
Nuclear 2.162 2.184 2.136 2.143
Conventional Hydroelectric 0.736 0.709 0.756 0.735
Renewable (non-hydroelectric) 0.695 0.770 0.815 0.894
Total Generation 11.140 11.214 11.345 11.415
Retail Sales (billion kWh per day)
Residential Sector 3.82 3.84 3.87 3.85
Commercial Sector 3.68 3.72 3.78 3.84
Industrial Sector 2.68 2.62 2.65 2.68
Total Retail Sales 10.21 10.20 10.32 10.39
Primary Assumptions (percent change from previous year)
Real DIsposable Personal Income -0.2 2.5 3.1 2.2
Manufacturing Production Index 2.9 3.8 2.9 2.8
Cooling Degree Days -12.6 -0.5 6.5 0.3
Heating Degree Days 18.5 2.0 -3.9 -4.6
Number of Households 0.7 0.8 0.7 0.9

Interactive Data Viewers

Provides custom data views of historical and forecast data

STEO Custom Table Builder ›
Real Prices Viewer ›


In beta testing:

STEO Data browser ›

Related Articles    
Today In Energy Daily
Annual Energy Outlook Electric Power Projections Annual
Annual Energy Outlook Levelized Generation Costs Annual
2015 Summer Fuels Outlook Slideshow Apr-2015 PDF
2014-2015 Winter Fuels Outlook Slideshow Oct-2014 PDF
2014 Summer Fuels Outlook Slideshow Apr-2014 PDF
Energy-weighted industrial production indices Mar-2014 PDF
Summer 2013 Outlook for Residential Electric Bills Jun-2013 PDF
Changes to Electricity and Renewables Tables Aug-2012 PDF
Fuel Competition in Power Generation Jun-2012 PDF
more...