Consumers may have to wait a while for relief from inflated energy costs, according to the Energy Information Administration, which is forecasting “historically high” prices through 2023.
Soaring costs for electricity, natural gas, coal and oil are “a result of the economic recovery and the repercussions of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine,” said EIA Administrator Joe DeCarolis in a June 7 statement accompanying the most recent Short-Term Energy Outlook.
“Although we expect the current upward pressure on energy prices to lessen, high energy prices will likely remain prevalent in the United States this year and next,” DeCarolis said.
EIA predicts that Americans will face a 4.8% boost in electricity prices this summer, for an average of 14.6 cents per kilowatt-hour. The commercial and industrial sectors will encounter similar increases between June and August: 12 cents/kWh, up 4.7% over last year, and 7.7 cents/kWh, up 3.2%, respectively.
“Higher electricity prices largely reflect higher wholesale power prices and higher natural gas prices,” according to the report.
Less electricity will come from coal due to the continued retirement of coal-fired generating capacity over the next few years. Coal’s share is forecast to fall from 23% in 2021 to 21% in 2022 and 20% in 2023. Limited rail delivery, low coal stocks at power plants, reduced coal mining capacity and rising generation from renewable sources are the main causes, the report said.
Renewables’ share of electricity generation will see big increases over the next two years: 22% in 2022 and 24% in 2023, up from 20% last year. Solar additions are expected to total 20 gigawatts in 2022 and 22 GW in 2023. Small-scale solar capacity (systems less than 1 GW) is expected to grow to 39 GW by the end of this year and to 46 GW next year. Wind additions are predicted to total 11 GW in 2022 and 5 GW in 2023.
Meanwhile, the Henry Hub spot price for natural gas is expected to average $8.69 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) during the third quarter, up from an average of $8.13/MMBtu last month.
“Natural gas prices are rising due to strong demand for U.S. liquified natural exports and for natural gas in the electric power sector, which will keep natural gas inventories below their previous five-year average,” the report said.