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Short-Term Energy Outlook

Release Date: November 10, 2020  |  Next Release Date: December 8, 2020  |  Full Report    |   Text Only   |   All Tables   |   All Figures


  • EIA forecasts that the consumption of electricity in the United States will decrease by 3.6% in 2020. EIA expects retail sales of electricity to fall by 6.4% this year in the commercial sector and by 8.8% in the industrial sector. EIA forecasts residential sector retail sales will increase by 2.5% in 2020. Milder winter temperatures earlier this year led to less residential 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 increase by 0.9%. Higher forecast electricity consumption in the first half of 2021 because of increased demand for space heating will be offset slightly by less forecast electricity consumption in the third quarter of 2021 because of less cooling demand based on the 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 33% 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 increases to 25% in 2021. Electricity generation from renewable energy sources rises from 18% in 2019 to 20% in 2020 and to 22% in 2021. The increase in renewables’ share is the result of planned additions to wind and solar generating capacity. EIA expects nuclear generation to decline by about 2% 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 these years.
  • In 2020, EIA expects U.S. residential electricity prices to average 13.1 cents per kilowatthour, which is 0.7% higher than the average electricity price was in 2019. Annual changes in regional residential electricity prices this year range from 0.8% lower in the South Atlantic region to 4.0% higher 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 23.2 gigawatts (GW) of new wind capacity in 2020 and 7.9 GW of new capacity in 2021. Expected utility-scale solar capacity rises by 12.8 GW in 2020 and by 13.0 GW in 2021.

U.S. electricity generation

U.S. renewable energy supply

U.S. electricity prices

U.S. Electricity Summary
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 12.8713.0113.1013.22
Commercial Sector 10.6710.6710.6110.76
Industrial Sector 6.926.816.666.70
Power Generation Fuel Costs (dollars per million Btu)
Natural Gas 3.552.892.453.52
Residual Fuel Oil 12.9212.738.338.78
Distillate Fuel Oil 16.2015.1610.5011.83
Generation (billion kWh)
Coal 1,145.96964.96785.87967.96
Natural Gas 1,468.731,585.721,600.811,367.29
Nuclear 807.08809.41794.38779.69
Conventional Hydroelectric 292.52287.87290.54277.92
Renewable (non-hydroelectric) 414.34439.82504.26593.20
Total Generation 4,174.404,127.334,011.884,021.86
Retail Sales (billion kWh)
Residential Sector 1,469.091,440.291,476.351,497.46
Commercial Sector 1,381.751,360.881,273.701,290.13
Industrial Sector 1,000.671,002.35914.16922.71
Total Retail Sales 3,859.193,811.153,671.143,718.01
U.S. Renewables Consumption (quadrillion Btu)
Geothermal 0.2090.2090.2080.209
Hydropowera 2.6632.4922.5632.542
Solar 0.9161.0431.2691.580
Waste Biomass 0.4870.4330.4330.448
Wind 2.4802.6823.0903.631
Wood Biomass 2.2612.2972.1712.208
Electricity Subtotalb 8.9919.1189.71210.580
Biomass-based Diesel 0.2600.2650.2630.292
Ethanol 1.1881.2001.0471.122
Biofuels Subtotal 1.4481.4651.3101.414
Otherc 0.8240.8000.6920.750
Total 11.26411.38211.71512.745

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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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