May 4, 2022
U.S. households could see a 30% to 40% hike in monthly energy bills this year if high natural gas prices persist, according to new analysis from Barclays Plc.
Average electric and natural gas bills will be $55 to $75 higher than in 2020 if natural gas costs remain at $6 to $7 per million British thermal units, Barclays said in a research note. Benchmark gas futures surged to a 13-year high of $8.474 on Wednesday as hot weather boosted domestic demand for the power-plant fuel.
“Lower-income households are likely to face greater pressure from commodity prices, especially going into the summer months,” Barclays analyst Srinjoy Banerjee wrote in the note. The researchers used 2020 for their comparison because full-year 2021 data was not yet available.
The forecast comes as consumers already are under pressure from soaring inflation for everything from food to housing. Utilities typically pass higher fuel costs through to customers and the run-up may make it more difficult for them to obtain regulatory approval for rate increases to cover things like fortifying aging grids and pivoting away from fossil fuels, Barclays said.