Dip in electric usage should trim bills
Milder temperatures lower consumption
CAPITAL REGION New Yorkers should see a slight decline in their electric bills this summer because of a drop in energy consumption linked to milder temperatures, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
The EIA projects electricity prices will rise about 2.2 percent in the mid-Atlantic states, which includes New York, but the increase will be offset by a 4.6 percent reduction in usage. The end result will be a 2.5 percent decline in summer electricity bills, with the average residential bill totaling about $390 during June, July and August. The average residential bill in the mid-Atlantic states totaled about $400 in 2012, about $415 in 2011 and about $440 in 2010.
“In the mid-Atlantic, the average usage of electricity is falling more than the average price is increasing,” said Tyler Hodge, an EIA economist.
The EIA report suggests that greater use of air conditioning and electronics are contributing to rising summer electrical use.
While only 68 percent of all U.S. households had air conditioning in 1993, about 87 percent had some form of air conditioning in 2009, according to the agency. Though the proportion of homes in the Northeast with air conditioning still lags behind the South and Midwest, in recent years it has risen sharply, from less than 60 percent in 1993 to about the national average today.
According to the EIA, summer electricity usage in the United States has steadily grown, from 2,610 kilowatt hours in 1990 to 3,355 kwh in 2012.
“Wider use of air conditioners has coincided with a population shift to hotter and more humid areas, and a housing boom in which the vast majority of new homes are built with air conditioning as standard equipment,” the EIA report notes.
However, the annual growth in electricity consumption appears to be slowing, possibly as a result of greater efforts to conserve energy, as well as the recession, which lowered household incomes and “may also have slowed the growth rate for additional appliances and electronics,” the report says.
So far this spring and summer, temperatures have run the gamut.
Although the last two weeks of June were hot, with temperatures in the 80s and 90s, the first half of the month was relatively cool, said Luigi Meccariello, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albany. As a result, the average temperature for the month was just 0.4 degrees above the average normal temperature for June in Albany, 67.6 degrees.
Through May of this year, wholesale electricity prices have been tracking higher than last year, said Ken Klapp, a spokesman for the New York Independent System Operator.
“This can be attributed to higher winter demand [due to colder winter weather] and higher natural gas prices,” Klapp said. “Looking into the summer months, wholesale electric prices will be determined mainly by the same two factors: total demand [determined by weather conditions] and the price of natural gas.”
The past three summers have been particularly warm, but this summer’s temperatures are expected to be much closer to average, especially in the Midwest and Northeast, according to the EIA.
One organization that is predicting a warmer-than-normal summer is the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center.
The agency’s outlook for July, August and September suggests that above-average temperatures are likely in eastern New York and New England, though the region is not expected to experience the drought conditions that are predicted for the Southwest and West, or that it experienced last summer.