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The Real Cost of a Sweltering Summer

By Lewis Braham - 2012-07-19T00:21:34Z

Photograph by Cliff Owen/AP Photo

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Electricity costs

High temperatures mean energy use may increase 10 percent to 30 percent along the U.S. East Coast and 30 percent to 60 percent across the Midwest from July 18 to 24, according to David Salmon of Weather Derivatives in Belton, Missouri. Heat-driven high electricity use can cause spot energy prices to rise as utilities try to meet demand. It can also boost prices for natural gas, which accounts for about 32 percent of the fuel used to make power in the U.S. On July 17, New York City wholesale electricity for next-day delivery jumped to its highest price in almost a month (blame it on air conditioners) -- an 81 percent gain from the prior day's peak, according to New York Independent System Operator Inc., which manages the state grid.