Thanks in no small part to the cold winter, average residential retail electricity sales were up in the first half of this year, federal energy officials said.
Short-Term Energy Outlook released July 10, the Energy Information Administration estimated a 7.5 percent increase in retail sales compared to January-June 2017.
"Much of this higher electricity usage occurred in the first quarter, when U.S. temperatures were much colder than the mild winter of 2016-17," EIA noted. "This trend was especially true in the West South Central states where first-quarter 2018 residential electricity sales were 21 percent higher than the same period in 2017, and in the South Atlantic states where first-quarter sales were 17 percent higher."
What's in store for the second half of this year? EIA sees continued growth, thanks to the air conditioning you're probably running right now.
"Warmer expected temperatures during the summer of 2018 compared with the summer of 2017 contribute to EIA's forecast of 2.1 percent year-over-year growth in residential electricity sales during the second half of 2018," the report said.
For all of 2018, EIA is forecasting a 4.7 percent increase in average electricity sales to the residential sector compared to last year. But it sees a 1.1 percent decline in 2019 "based on a forecast of temperatures being closer to normal."
On the commercial side, EIA said the cold winter had less impact, leading to a first-half increase in retail sales of 1.6 percent over the first six months of 2017. The report sees commercial sales increasing 0.4 percent in the second half of this year.
For all of 2018, commercial sales are expected to grow 1 percent, before falling 0.1 percent next year.
Additionally, EIA expects 2018 will see the highest level of total U.S. electricity generation since 2010: 11.3 gigawatt-hours per day.
"EIA forecasts U.S. electricity generation in 2018 will be 2.7 percent higher than last year but fall by 0.9 percent in 2019 as forecast temperatures return to normal levels," the report said.
Meanwhile, if you're hoping for a return of last year's gasoline prices, don't hold your breath.
EIA is forecasting this year's average price for a gallon of regular will be $2.76, up 34 cents from 2017. And looking ahead to 2019, it sees an average price of $2.77.
As for diesel, it's forecast to average $3.14 a gallon in 2018, up 49 cents from last year. But EIA sees an average of $3.07 in 2019.