Winter energy cost forecast
Posted at: 10/11/2012 1:54 PM
By: Ray Levato | WHEC.com
The U.S. Energy Information Administration today released its Winter forecast for 2012-13, and U.S. households are expected to use more heating fuel this Winter than last because temperatures are expected to be near normal compared with last Winter.
Even though natural gas prices are relatively low, homes that use natural gas are expected to use more of it this Winter.
Homes that use heating oil, which is primarily in the Northeast, could see total heating bills above $2,000 for the season as heating oil is expected to average a record high $3.80 a gallon.
About one-half of U.S. households use natural gas as their primary heating fuel. EIA expects households heating with natural gas to spend an average of $89 (15 percent) more this winter than last winter. The increase in natural gas expenditures represents less than a 1-percent increase in the average U.S. residential price from last winter and a 14-percent increase in consumption. The expected increase in consumption is the result of the forecast of near-normal temperatures this winter, in contrast to the unusually warm winter of 2011-12. The projected changes in residential natural gas prices this winter range from a 3-percent decline in the South to a 4-percent increase in the Northeast. Price changes vary across regions because of a number of factors such as regional changes in production, pipeline supply capacity, and differences in regulatory constraints in passing price changes through to customers.
EIA expects households heating primarily with heating oil to spend an average of about $407 (19 percent) more this winter than last winter as a result of a 2-percent increase in prices and a 17-percent increase in consumption. About 6 percent of U.S. households depend on heating oil for space heating; however, the Northeast accounts for about 80 percent of these households. Low distillate stocks in the East Coast and Gulf Coast states, which provide over 60 percent of the Northeast's distillate supply, and the state of New York's switchover from higher sulfur heating oil to fuel with less than 15 parts per million sulfur, all contribute to an expected tighter market this winter.
About 5 percent of total U.S. households heat with propane. EIA expects households heating primarily with propane to spend more this winter, but that increase varies across regions. EIA expects that households in the Midwest will see an average increase in both propane consumption and winter propane expenditures of 17 percent and 11 percent, respectively, with residential propane prices 5 percent lower than last winter. With consumption projected to increase by 16 percent over last winter in the Northeast, households there may see an increase in expenditures of 15 percent with prices lower by an average 1 percent.
Households heating primarily with electricity can expect to spend an average of $49 (5 percent) more this winter because of forecasted colder weather despite a projected 2-percent decrease in prices. About 38 percent of all U.S. households rely on electricity as their primary heating fuel, ranging from 14 percent in the Northeast to 62 percent in the South.
RG&E today said the last thing the utility ever wants to do is shut off a customer's electricity or natural gas service.Customers who are having difficulty paying their bills are urged to contact RG&E right away at 1.877.266.3492.
RG&E says it adheres to the shutoff provisions of the state's Home Energy Fair Practices Act.