Mild summer means electric use down in Naperville

Summer in northern Illinois kicked off with abundant rainfall this year, and the season has continued its mild ways with unusually cool temperatures. Just as the early season’s downpours translated to less use of municipal water supplies, the moderate weather has caused air conditioners to remain off for more days this summer than usual.

Electricity consumption in Naperville for June and July this year was just shy of 80 percent the level seen over the same period in 2012, which was the third-hottest summer on record, National Weather Service records show. Last month, Naperville electric customers used less than 72 percent the amount of kilowatts they went through in July two years ago, also the third-steamiest on the books.

The July just past came in with an average daily high temperature of 70.4 degrees, more than 3 1/2 degrees cooler than normal. Only a dozen times in the past 142 years since recordkeeping began has the average for July been cooler.

For the city-owned utility, sufficient sales are as crucial as ever. The department in April plugged a $14 million budget deficit using funds borrowed from the municipal water utility. The water department also has seen demand run lower this summer relative to past years, when rain has been more scarce. June of this year was among the wettest on record.

Mark Curran, the electric utility’s director, said it’s too soon to say whether the mild summer will mean trouble for his department’s bottom line.

“The utility’s cash position is being reviewed on a monthly basis by tracking total revenues and expenditures,” Curran said in an email. “It’s early within the fiscal year so we need to continue to evaluate weather patterns in the coming months to determine our overall cash position this fiscal year.”

The city’s $23.8 million in receipts from electric rate payers for their June and July service this year reflected the 6 percent rate hike that took effect May 1. Even though utility customers went through 6 percent more megawatts over the same period last year, the lower rates in place a year ago meant less than $23.5 million in income for the electric department for June and July.

Last summer’s rates included a 2 percent increase that was implemented May 1, 2013.

Another electric rate hike scheduled for May 1, 2015, will increase rates by 7 percent.

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