Total retail electricity sales in the United States are still expected to decline this year, from 10.14 million megawatt-hours per day in 2016 to 10.08 million MWh/d in 2017, according to the latest "Short-Term Energy Outlook" released Oct. 11 by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Retail power sales are likely to rise to 10.31 million MWh/d in 2018.
By sector, U.S. retail residential power sales of electricity are expected to total about 3.76 million MWh/d this year, down from 3.85 million MWh/d in 2016, before moving up to 3.91 million MWh/d in 2018.
Commercial-sector electricity sales are seen hitting 3.70 million MWh/d this year, little changed from 2016, before increasing to 3.74 million MWh/d in 2018. For this year, retail industrial power sales are anticipated to hit 2.59 million MWh/d, up from 2.56 million MWh/d in 2016, and reach 2.63 million MWh/d in 2018.
Total U.S. electricity generation from utility-scale power plants averaged 11,145 gigawatt-hours per day in 2016 and is seen averaging 10,985 GWh/d this year and 11,242 GWh/d in 2018. Amid strong natural gas prices, higher electric generation from renewables and lower power demand, the EIA still sees the share of total utility-scale electricity generation from natural gas dropping from an average of 34% in 2016 to 31% this year and 32% in 2018. The share of electricity generation from coal is seen increasing from 30% in 2016 to about 31% in both 2017 and 2018.
After reaching 82 GW in 2016, wind electricity generating capacity additions are expected to boost capacity to 88 GW by the end of this year and total 96 GW by the end of 2018.
The agency expects utility-scale solar capacity to reach 27 GW by the end of the year and hit 30 GW by the end of 2018. Total U.S. utility-scale solar electricity generating capacity at the end of 2016 was 22 GW. Generation from small-scale solar, or installations of 1 MW or less, is expected to increase by 28% this year and by 23% in 2018.
Meantime, the average U.S. residential electricity price is projected to rise 3.2% on the year in 2017 to 12.96 cents per kWh and then increase by 2.7% in 2018 to 13.31 cents/kWh. This compares to an average of 12.55 cents/kWh in 2016.
U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions are expected to drop by 0.6% this year but then rise by 2.2% in 2018, depending upon the impact of the weather, the economy and energy prices. U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions were down by 1.7% in 2016.