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Expect Slightly Higher Prices for Gasoline, Electricity

Prices for motor gasoline and residential electricity are expected to rise slightly in the short term, while natural gas pricing remains stable for now, reports the latest EIA Energy Outlook Report. U.S. carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuels, which declined by 7.0 percent in 2009, are expected to increase by 3.4 percent in 2010.

EIA expects that regular-grade motor gasoline retail prices, which averaged $2.35 per gallon last year, will average $2.77 per gallon during the second half of 2010, up one cent per gallon from the average in the first half of the year. On-highway diesel fuel retail pricing, which averaged $2.46 per gallon in 2009, averages $2.98 per gallon in 2010, and is expected to reach $3.13 in 2011.

EIA projects that the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) spot price, which ended in July at more than $78 per barrel, will average $81 per barrel in the fourth quarter of 2010 and $84 per barrel in 2011, slightly above last month’s forecasts.

EIA estimates that the 2009 delivered electric-power-sector coal price increased by about 7 percent despite decreases in spot coal prices, lower prices for other fossil fuels, and declines in coal-fired electricity generation.

EIA attributes the higher cost of delivered coal on longer term contracts initiated during a period of high prices and rising transportation costs. Pricing is expected to increase slightly by 1.4 percent to average $2.24 per MMBtu in 2010, and then decline to an average of $2.19 per MMBtu in 2011.

The projected Henry Hub natural gas spot price averages $4.69 per million Btu (MMBtu) this year, a $0.74-per-MMBtu increase over the 2009 average, but virtually unchanged from last month’s forecast, says EIA. The Henry Hub spot price is projected to average $4.98 per MMBtu in 2011, down $0.19 per MMBtu from last month’s forecast.

EIA expects the annual average residential electricity price to increase only moderately over the forecast period, averaging 11.6 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) in 2010, up slightly from 11.5 cents per kWh in 2009, and rising to 11.9 cents per kWh in 2011.

However, rising fuel costs for natural gas and coal generation are likely to push up retail prices later this year, causing prices over the entire year to grow by about 0.8 percent, says EIA. Upshot: increased fuel costs will boost residential prices higher by about 2.7 percent during 2011.

EIA estimates that U.S. CO2 emissions from fossil fuels, which declined by 7.0 percent in 2009, are expected to increase by 3.4 percent and 0.8 percent in 2010 and 2011, respectively. EIA attributes the increase to more demand for petroleum in the transportation sector (motor gasoline, diesel fuel and jet fuel), and continued electric-power-sector coal demand growth.

However, even with these increases, projected emissions remain below their level in any year from 1999 through 2008, says EIA.

Here’s a link to May’s report.

EIA’s price summary chart:

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