The U.S. Energy Information Administration released its annual energy outlook this week.
(The report doesn’t factor in the disruptive potential of the Obama administration’s proposed Clean Power Plan, which could cost as much as $479 billion.)
The federal government’s projections include both good news and bad news, but here are few noteworthy highlights:
· America’s dependence on foreign energy is expected to further decrease, the result of growing domestic oil and gas production.
· The United States will likely become a net energy exporter next year. Currently, it’s a “modest” net importer.
· Look out for higher utility bills. The retail price of electricity is expected to rise 18 percent between 2013 and 2040, the result of both increased oil and gas prices and public policy.
· Renewable electricity generation is expected to grow—but this trend is driven by federal tax credits and state-level usage mandates, not market demand. In the short term, cheap natural gas and expiring federal and state policies that supported green energy “results in a challenging economic environment for renewables.”
· As natural gas continues to crowd out other, dirtier energy sources, there’s a positive effect on the environment. Even though carbon emissions are expected to increase by 2.7 percent between 2013 and 2040, they’ll nevertheless remain at lower levels than in 2005.
· Fossil fuels will continue to meet around four-fifths of America’s energy needs.
Energy has been one of the few bright spots in the economy. It can continue to be, but only if the government doesn't create impediments to ongoing exploration, transportation, and storage.