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State agency projects reliable electricity supply

MAE forecasts stable natural gas prices

By RYAN JARVI

Journal Staff Writer

MARQUETTE — As demand for electricity is projected to drop 2 percent this year compared to 2016 and natural gas use continues a three-year downward trend, the Michigan Agency for Energy forecasts a reliable supply of electricity and stable natural gas prices in 2017.

Assuming normal temperatures this summer, the agency’s Summer Energy Appraisal projects electric consumption to be 3.6 percent lower than last year among residential customers, according to an agency press release. State officials also project demand to be lower for commercial customers and industrial users, by 1.6 and .08 percent, respectively.

While warmer than average temperatures may cause electricity demand to increase for air conditioning purposes, state officials said the overall yearly consumption might still be down across the state compared to 2016 due to a warm summer last year and above average 2016-17 winter temperatures.

The warmer winter weather also led the Michigan Agency for Energy to expect a drop in natural gas use in 2017, in part due to less demand by homeowners to use their furnaces, the press release states.

For this year, the agency forecast a 3.7 percent decrease from 2016 figures in natural gas use, the third consecutive year demand for the fuel has declined. But natural gas prices are expected to remain relatively stable, according to the release.

“As a result of reduced winter consumption, natural gas inventories in Michigan were 7 percent higher in January than the five-year average for that time of year,” the release states. “Production from wells in Michigan could see a 5.2 percent drop. Still, natural gas wholesale prices have been relatively stable. National inventories for the week ending May 26 were 13 percent lower than the same time last year, but still higher than the five-year average for the month of May.”

The agency offered several tips to help keep electricity costs down:

≤ Let cool air in: Turn off the home’s cooling system and open windows overnight, as temperatures can be considerably cooler than during daytime hours.

≤ Adjust your thermostat: Keep the house warmer than normal when away by leaving the home’s thermostat at a higher temperature so that air conditioning units use less energy.

≤ Don’t add more heat: Cooking on the stove adds warmth to a home. Prepare food outside on a grill or follow recipes that limit cooking time.

≤ Unplug and save: Electronics that are left plugged in, even if they’re not turned on, use energy.

≤ Air dry dishes: Instead of using a dishwasher’s drying cycle, let dishes dry naturally. Also, run the dishwasher at times of day when there is not a big demand for electricity.

For more tips on how to conserve energy and lessen the financial impact, visit michigan.gov/mpsc.

Ryan Jarvi can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 270. His email address is rjarvi@miningjournal.net.