Total US sales of electricity continued to tumble in June. The government reported sales fell 4% to 289 billion kw-hr, down 4% from June 2000.

Residential sector sales were down 6% to 99 billion kw-hr, compared to the year earlier period, the Energy Information Administration reported Monday. Retail sales in the commercial sector were 3% higher to 96 billion kw-hr, while sales in the industrial sector plummeted 9% to 84 billion kw-hr, compared to a year ago.

Industrial power sales have been falling since at least February, and are down 5.7% for the first 6 months of the year, compared to the same period in 2000. Residential sales are up 5.5% for the year, compared to a year ago, and commercial sales are up 4.9%. Overall, electricity sales have risen an anemic 1.6% in the first 6 months of 2001, compared to the same period a year ago.

Electricity prices are up 8.3% for the year to an average 7¢/kw-hr from 6.47¢/kw-hr last year in the same period. Commercial rates jumped 16.8% to 5¢/kw-hr in the first 6 months of this year, compared to the same period in 2000. Residential rates rose 2.5% to 8.25¢/kw-hr, while industrial rates were down 2.9% to 6.15¢/kw-hr, compared to the first 6 months of 2000.

The EIA said total industry revenue in the first 6 months of 2001 was $115.9 billion, up 10% compared to the same period a year ago.

Gas receipts fall
Receipts for gas in May totaled 204 bcf, the EIA reported, down from 269 bcf reported in May 2000. The average cost of gas delivered to electric utilities was $5.14/MMbtu, compared to $3.55/MMbtu reported in May 2000.

Less expensive fuel oil continued to reduce the amount of natural gas consumed by electric utilities, especially in the Middle Atlantic and South Atlantic census divisions, EIA said. In addition, the agency said sale and reclassification of electric plants is having a large effect on gas receipt data in the New England, Middle Atlantic, and Pacific contiguous census divisions.

Receipts of coal at electric utilities totaled 68 million tons in May, up nearly 1 million tons from the level reported in May 2000. Countering the effect of a reduction in coal receipts caused by the sale and reclassification of utility plants as nonutility plants was a buildup of coal stocks from the levels of the past few months, the agency reported.

The cost of coal delivered to electric utilities in May through spot market purchases was $1.38/MMbtu, up from $1.29/MMbtu reported during April 2001. The EIA said questions regarding the availability of coal have led to higher prices in the spot market. Overall, the agency reported the delivered cost of coal has remained relatively stable due to the majority of the fuel being delivered under long-term contracts.

Receipts of petroleum totaled 13 million bbl, up nearly 5 million bbl from the level reported in May 2000. While the sale and reclassification of plants have tended to reduce fuel oil receipts over the past year, the EIA said this increase in petroleum receipts was due in-part to some utilities switching from natural gas to a less expensive fuel oil as a replacement fuel.

In addition, fuel oil receipts were unusually low during the first half of 2000 due to the high cost of petroleum. For the month, EIA the average delivered cost of fuel oil was $3.90/MMbtu, down from $4.23/MMbtu reported in May 2000.