Federal Agency Predicts It Will Cost More to Keep Cool in New Jersey This Summer

With hotter-than-average weather forecast for this summer, folks will be cranking up their air conditioners to try to beat the heat

stay cool air conditioned
It may cost less for drivers to fill their gas tanks for the rest of the year, but consumers also might see a slight spike in the cost of cooling their homes this summer, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

In its annual short-term energy outlook, the agency projected mostly optimistic estimates about — among other things — what it will cost for the natural gas used to heat most homes in New Jersey and for gasoline to get to work and the beach, as well as the price of the power used to keep light on for homes.

For a state with some of the highest energy costs for residents and businesses in the nation, the outlook continues a trend in which expense has dropped dramatically, particularly for natural gas because of newfound deposits of the fuel in neighboring Pennsylvania and other states.

Crude oil prices are also expect to fall, thanks, in part, to the same the technology that has driven down the cost of natural gas, a process known as hydraulic fracturing or fracking.

[related]After hitting a 2015 high of $2.75 a gallon in May for retail gas prices — a 25-cent increase from April — the EIA expects monthly declines from May levels, with gas averaging $2.43 a gallon during the second half of 2014.

In the mid-Atlantic region, including New Jersey, the agency said the cost of electricity this summer will rise by $387 or 3.8 percent, slightly less than what the rest of the nation will pay.

“Consumers will pay higher power bills to stay cool this summer because temperatures are forecast to be warmer than last year and retail prices will be up in most areas of the country,’’ said Adam Siemensi, EIA’s administrator.

The EIA said U.S. natural gas production is also projected to rise — a trend that has rewarded consumers and businesses with lower bills for the past few years.

The agency expects renewable energy to grow by 2.6 percent in 2015, mostly attributed to an increase in utility-scale solar generation. Renewable energy and natural-gas generation are projected to provide larger shares of electricity production.