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Short-Term Energy Outlook

Release Date: October 6, 2020  |  Next Release Date: November 10, 2020  |  Full Report    |   Text Only   |   All Tables   |   All Figures

Electricity

  • EIA forecasts 2.2% less electricity consumption in the United States in 2020 compared with 2019. EIA expects retail sales of electricity to fall by 6.2% this year in the commercial sector and by 5.6% in the industrial sector. EIA forecasts residential sector retail sales will increase by 3.2% in 2020. Milder winter temperatures earlier in the year led to lower consumption for space heating, offset by increased summer cooling demand and increased electricity use by more people working and attending classes from home. In 2021, EIA forecasts total U.S. electricity consumption will be similar to 2020 consumption. Higher forecast electricity consumption in the first quarter of 2021 because of an increase in demand for space heating is mostly offset by lower forecast electricity consumption in the third quarter of 2021 because of less cooling demand based on NOAA forecast of fewer cooling degree days.
  • EIA expects the share of U.S. electric power sector generation from natural gas-fired power plants will increase from 37% in 2019 to 39% this year. In 2021, the forecast natural gas share declines to 34% in response to higher natural gas prices. Coal’s forecast share of electricity generation falls from 24% in 2019 to 20% in 2020 and then returns to 24% in 2021. Electricity generation from renewable energy sources rises from 17% in 2019 to 20% in 2020 and to 22% in 2021. The increase in the share from renewables is the result of planned additions to wind and solar generating capacity. EIA expects 3% declines in nuclear generation in both 2020 and 2021, reflecting recent and planned retirements of nuclear generating capacity. The nuclear share of U.S. generation remains close to 20% in all years.
  • In 2020, EIA expects U.S. residential electricity prices to average 13.1 cents per kilowatthour, which would be 0.4% higher than the average electricity price in 2019. Annual changes in regional residential electricity prices range from 1.4% lower prices in the South Atlantic region to 4.0% higher prices in the Pacific region.
  • EIA forecasts that renewable energy will be the fastest-growing source of electricity generation in 2020. EIA expects the U.S. electric power sector will add 23.3 gigawatts (GW) of new wind capacity in 2020 and 7.3 GW of new capacity in 2021. Expected utility-scale solar capacity rises by 13.7 GW in 2020 and by 11.8 GW in 2021.

U.S. electricity generation

U.S. renewable energy supply

U.S. electricity prices

U.S. Electricity Summary
  2018201920202021
aConventional hydroelectric power only. Hydroelectricity generated by pumped storage is not included in renewable energy.
bIncludes electricity and heat generation
cOther renewables includes biofuels production losses and co-products
Retail Prices (cents per kilowatthour)
Residential Sector 12.8713.0413.0913.22
Commercial Sector 10.6710.6610.5610.71
Industrial Sector 6.926.836.716.78
Power Generation Fuel Costs (dollars per million Btu)
Coal 2.062.021.962.04
Natural Gas 3.552.882.423.49
Residual Fuel Oil 12.9212.728.398.81
Distillate Fuel Oil 16.2015.1610.5311.78
Generation (billion kWh)
Coal 1,145.96966.15768.16922.05
Natural Gas 1,468.731,581.821,614.391,383.37
Nuclear 807.08809.41785.24761.01
Conventional Hydroelectric 292.52273.71278.91277.07
Renewable (non-hydroelectric) 414.34446.73508.39599.34
Total Generation 4,174.404,118.053,992.693,980.54
Retail Sales (billion kWh)
Residential Sector 1,469.091,435.151,480.891,490.51
Commercial Sector 1,381.751,354.541,270.641,288.28
Industrial Sector 1,000.67952.15898.86889.14
Total Retail Sales 3,859.193,749.543,657.473,675.63
U.S. Renewables Consumption (quadrillion Btu)
Geothermal 0.2090.2090.2080.208
Hydropowera 2.6632.4922.5322.519
Solar 0.9161.0431.2771.596
Waste Biomass 0.4870.4330.4320.441
Wind 2.4802.7293.1253.672
Wood Biomass 2.2612.2972.1522.194
Electricity Subtotalb 8.9919.1769.69510.593
Biomass-based Diesel 0.2600.2650.2610.318
Ethanol 1.1881.2001.0541.147
Biofuels Subtotal 1.4481.4651.3151.465
Otherc 0.8240.8000.6960.767
Total 11.26411.44111.70612.825

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Related Figures
U.S. electricity consumption XLSX PNG
U.S. residential electricity price XLSX PNG
U.S. electricity generation by fuel, all sectors XLSX PNG
U.S. renewable energy supply XLSX PNG
U.S. carbon dioxide emissions growth XLSX PNG
U.S. summer cooling degree days XLSX PNG
U.S. winter heating degree days XLSX PNG
U.S. census regions and census divisions XLSX PNG
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