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Short-Term Energy Outlook

Release Date: August 6, 2019  |  Next Release Date: September 10, 2019  |  Full Report    |   Text Only   |   All Tables   |   All Figures


  • EIA has expanded its forecasts for electricity supply in the United States and has introduced new forecasts for wholesale electricity prices. A STEO Supplement provides more information about the changes.
  • Lower costs for natural gas drive EIA’s forecast that annual average wholesale electricity prices will be lower in 2019 than last year in all areas of the United States. The forecast year-over-year declines range from -0.2% in the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) to -28% in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) market.
  • EIA expects the share of U.S. total utility-scale electricity generation from natural gas-fired power plants will rise from 34% in 2018 to 37% in 2019 and then decline slightly in 2020. EIA forecasts that the share of U.S. generation from coal will average 24% in 2019 and in 2020, down from 28% in 2018. The forecast nuclear share of U.S. generation remains at about 20% in 2019 and in 2020. Hydropower averages a 7% share of total U.S. generation in the forecast for 2019 and 2020, similar to 2018. Wind, solar, and other nonhydropower renewables together provided 10% of U.S. total utility-scale generation in 2018. EIA expects they will provide 10% in 2019 and 12% in 2020.
  • EIA expects electric power sector demand for coal to fall by 2% in 2020, compared with an expected decline of 15% in 2019. However, planned coal plant retirements will continue to put downward pressure on overall electricity demand for the fuel. Almost 13 gigawatts of coal-fired electricity generation capacity has retired this year or is scheduled to retire by the end of 2020, accounting for 5% of the capacity existing at the end of 2018.
  • EIA forecasts that renewable fuels, including wind, solar, and hydropower, will collectively produce 18% of U.S. electricity in 2019 and 19% in 2020. EIA expects that annual generation from wind will surpass hydropower generation for the first time in 2019 to become the leading source of renewable electricity generation and maintain that position in 2020.
  • EIA is improving its regional-level trend analysis by inserting a generator-level production cost model that simulates hourly generation at individual power plants. This improves our insight into generation, especially from fast-growing renewable sources like wind and solar.
  • This additional granularity and the assumption that wind will return to more normal levels in 2019, after a windy first half of 2018, results in an EIA forecast that electricity generation from wind power will average 295 billion kilowatthours (kWh) in 2019 and 335 billion kWh in 2020, estimates that are 4% and 7% lower, respectively, than forecast in the July STEO. In addition, the application of hourly dispatch that better models solar incidence lowers the solar electric production forecast by 1.1% in 2019 and by 2.8% in 2020.
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 12.8912.8913.0513.17
Commercial Sector 10.6610.6610.6310.65
Industrial Sector 6.886.936.816.91
Power Generation Fuel Costs (dollars per million Btu)
Natural Gas 3.373.542.782.97
Residual Fuel Oil 11.0112.9512.7412.90
Distillate Fuel Oil 13.2716.1315.5817.00
Generation (billion kWh per day)
Coal 3.3043.1412.6602.573
Natural Gas 3.5524.0224.2484.164
Nuclear 2.2052.2112.2072.163
Conventional Hydroelectric 0.8220.7960.7740.778
Renewable (non-hydroelectric) 1.0581.1531.1981.366
Total Generation 11.05311.44611.20911.169
Retail Sales (billion kWh per day)
Residential Sector 3.784.013.893.90
Commercial Sector 3.713.773.733.73
Industrial Sector 2.702.612.592.58
Total Retail Sales 10.2010.4210.2410.24
U.S. Renewables Consumption (quadrillion Btu)
Geothermal 0.2100.2180.2190.217
Hydropowera 2.7672.6882.6062.630
Solar 0.7770.9511.0771.291
Waste Biomass 0.4950.4920.4620.461
Wind 2.3462.5362.7233.092
Wood Biomass 2.2852.3572.2252.170
Electricity Subtotalb 8.8609.2189.2799.827
Biomass-based Diesel 0.2800.2560.2860.317
Ethanol 1.1921.1851.1851.207
Biofuels Subtotal 1.4731.4411.4751.524
Otherc 0.8210.8230.8010.821
Total 11.15411.48211.54712.172

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