Washington, 10 October (Argus) — US electricity consumption is expected to increase this winter, with a return to colder conditions expected after last winter's unusual warmth.
As a result, residential-sector retail electricity sales this winter will average 6.2pc more than last winter, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said in its monthly Short Term Energy Outlook released today. Projected heating degree days in the southern states, where a majority of homes heat with electricity, are put at 27pc higher than last winter.
Heating degree days last winter – during the fourth quarter of 2011 and the first quarter of 2012 – totaled 18pc below the 30-year norm.
Because of higher natural gas prices the agency expects gas to lose some of its recent gains in electricity generation market share. The agency projects the share of total generation fueled by natural gas in the fourth quarter of 2012 will average 27.8pc, compared with 25.4pc during the final three months of 2011.
However, year-over-year decreases in natural gas' share of total generation will be evident by the beginning of 2013. The EIA expects gas to fuel 25.8pc of generation in the first quarter of 2013, down from 28.6pc during the first quarter of 2012.
Total renewable energy consumption is forecast to decrease 2.3pc in 2012 despite growing 13.9pc in 2011. The decline results from a drop in hydropower use. The decline in hydropower from 2011 to 2012 more than offsets the projected growth in consumption of other renewable energy.
In 2013, the consumption of renewable energy is forecast to increase 2.4pc as non-hydropower
renewables grow by an average of 4.8pc, offsetting a 2.3pc drop in hydropower. The outlook for wind-powered generation, which grew 26pc in 2011 and is forecast to grow 16pc in 2012, is uncertain because the federal production tax credits for wind generation are set to expire at the end of this year.
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