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Short-Term Energy Outlook

Release Date: July 8, 2014  |  Next Release Date: August 12, 2014  |  Full Report    |   Text Only   |   All Tables   |   All Figures

Electricity

A large proportion of U.S. conventional hydroelectric output is produced in states west of the Mississippi River, especially in the Pacific Northwest. The level of hydroelectric generation is heavily influenced by precipitation patterns, and the western states have experienced widely divergent levels of rainfall and snowfall in recent months. A higher-than-normal snowpack in the Rocky Mountains contributed to an 11.6% increase in year-to-date (January-April) hydroelectric generation in the Mountain Census Division, compared with the same period in 2013. Low precipitation levels in the Pacific Northwest earlier this year were offset by a very wet March, leading to relatively flat year-to-date change in hydroelectric generation in Oregon and Washington. In contrast, exceptional drought in California has caused a 46.6% year-to-date decline in that state's hydroelectric generation.

Electricity Consumption

EIA estimates that total consumption of electricity during the first half of 2014 was 2.5% higher than during the same period last year. This increased consumption occurred primarily in the residential and commercial sectors during the first quarter of the year as a result of colder temperatures in the eastern half of the United States. Retail sales of electricity to the industrial sector during the first half are estimated to be down 1.0% from last year. A 5.1% year-over-year increase in cooling degree days during the second half of 2014 and projected improvements in energy efficiency contribute to the forecast of 0.6% growth in total electricity consumption during the remainder of 2014. EIA expects little change in electricity consumption in 2015.

Electricity Generation

EIA projects that total U.S. electricity generation in 2014 will grow by 1.6% from last year to an average of 11,300 gigawatthours per day. Recently rising costs for natural gas have driven power generators to use relatively more coal for supplying electricity. During the first half of 2014, EIA estimates that 40.0% of total generation was fueled by coal, compared with 39.0% during the first half of last year. In contrast, the share of generation supplied by natural gas fell from 26.1% last year to 24.8% during the first half of 2014. EIA expects that coal's share of generation will fall to an average of 38.8% in 2015 while the natural gas fuel share rises to 27.5%.

Electricity Retail Prices

EIA expects the U.S. residential annual average electricity price to increase by 3.1% this year, which would be the highest growth rate since 2008, primarily in response to higher fuel costs for power generation. The largest price increases occur in the Northeast region. Projected residential prices increase by an additional 2.4% during 2015.

U.S. Electricity Summary
  2012 2013 2014 2015
Retail Prices (cents per kilowatthour)
Residential Sector 11.88 12.12 12.49 12.79
Commercial Sector 10.09 10.29 10.76 10.90
Industrial Sector 6.67 6.82 7.11 7.14
Power Generation Fuel Costs (dollars per million Btu)
Coal 2.38 2.35 2.39 2.41
Natural Gas 3.42 4.32 5.59 5.19
Residual Fuel Oil 21.05 19.33 19.97 19.01
Distillate Fuel Oil 23.51 23.08 23.62 24.30
Generation (billion kWh per day)
Coal 4.137 4.345 4.555 4.388
Natural Gas 3.349 3.051 3.004 3.107
Nuclear 2.102 2.162 2.109 2.120
Conventional Hydroelectric 0.755 0.737 0.731 0.757
Renewable (non-hydroelectric) 0.597 0.694 0.757 0.802
Total Generation 11.059 11.118 11.296 11.297
Retail Sales (billion kWh per day)
Residential Sector 3.76 3.81 3.92 3.87
Commercial Sector 3.63 3.67 3.72 3.73
Industrial Sector 2.69 2.62 2.61 2.66
Total Retail Sales 10.09 10.11 10.27 10.28
Primary Assumptions (percent change from previous year)
Real DIsposable Personal Income 2.0 0.7 1.8 3.1
Manufacturing Production Index 4.4 2.9 3.3 3.4
Cooling Degree Days 1.7 -12.7 5.7 -0.4
Heating Degree Days -12.6 18.5 1.0 -6.5
Number of Households 1.1 1.2 1.1 1.3

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