Plugging into Multifamily - The Official Blog of AUM

January Energy Outlook

Posted by Alison Hoss on Tue, Jan 13, 2015 @ 04:23 PM


Natural Gas Storage

Mild December Weather Curbs Withdrawals -  Storage Levels Finally within 5-Year Average Range 

As of EIA’s December 26th Storage Report, storage levels were at 3,220 BCF; 232 BCF above the same period in 2013, yet still below the 5-Year average by 3%.  The current 3,220 BCF storage level marks the first time since November, 2013 in which total working gas is within the 5-year historic range (the gray band shown on the chart below). We started this withdrawal season at a 10% deficit below historic 5-year averages.  Due to our mild December, withdrawals have been small and have not bled reserves like last December and January.


Working Gas in Underground Storage Compared with the 5-Year Maximum and Minimum - Billion Cubic Feet



Weather Forecast: Colder Temperatures for the South 

January has started out with frigid cold, but is expected to end mild throughout most of the US.  Only Texas and the Central States are predicted to experience below-normal temperatures.

The long-range forecast show below-normal temperatures for Texas through Virginia.  The West Coast will experience above normal temperatures.



Energy Prices

Natural Gas

December was a great month for energy prices. Warm temperatures dampened the heating demand for natural gas and record high gas production applied downward pressure to energy prices; causing natural gas prices to drop 6% and electricity prices dropped 1%. The last two weeks of December were significant with the NYMEX average 12-month price for natural gas closing down 12% and the PJM 12-month average price for peak power dropping 7%.

February natural gas contracts continued to fall to $2.882/MMBtu, despite the cold spell in early January reaching across most of the country.  This week’s cold temps are expected to end and a return to above-normal temperatures is expected.  Short-Term cold spells should be expected, but unlike last winter, they are not expected to last for extended periods.




As natural gas prices go, so follows electricity prices.  Most all electric markets have seen a corresponding dip in prices; however not as noteworthy.  Our biggest concern today on the electric front comes from significant increases on the utility standard/default service rates.  Large increases have been enacted in the Northeast and Midwest.

Bottom Line

Mild December Weather Offsets Low Storage Levels

This Holiday Season brought us three gifts: mild December temperatures, limited storage withdrawals, and record gas production levels throughout  the injection season. The combination of these events has offset lower-than-normal storage levels. As a result, natural gas prices fell to the lowest levels in 2 years, down 35% since November.  At a time when prices usually escalate ahead of the peak season for heating demand, the warmer-than-normal December and record production has limited storage withdrawals.


Tags: Energy cost, Energy procurement, Multifamily, Energy market, EnergyBlogs, energy benchmarking

Chicago Introduces Benchmarking and Disclosure

Posted by James Kenneally on Mon, Jul 29, 2013 @ 09:11 AM

Chicago Flag resized 600 On June 26, Mayor Rahm Emanuel introduced Chicago's Building Energy Use Benchmarking Ordinance, which was referred to the Committee on Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards. If passed, this ordinance would require 3,500 commercial, residential and municipal buildings that are larger than 50,000 square feet to submit property characteristics and energy usage into EPA’s Portfolio Manager Energy Benchmark Tool, to receive an energy efficiency benchmark.  This effort is a significant part of meeting Mayor Emanuel's Sustainable Chicago 2015 goal of improving citywide energy efficiency by 5% through voluntary efforts and effective policy measures.

Similar policies to increase awareness and transparency of building energy consumption are already in place in two states and eight major cities.  Like Chicago, these cities and states are seeking to unlock market forces to encourage economic savings, job creation, and positive environmental impacts linked to energy efficiency.

Chicago's proposed ordinance for benchmarking, verification, and disclosure divides affected buildings (including Multifamily) into two groups, based on gross square footage. Deadlines will phase-in from 2014-2016. 

  • Buildings larger than 250,000 square feet will be required to report their energy efficiency information to the City before June 1, 2014 (residential buildings by June 1, 2015).
  • Buildings between 50,000-250,000 square feet will be required to report their energy efficiency information before June 1, 2015 (residential buildings by June 1, 2016).

As with other municipal benchmarking efforts, the difficulty for multifamily owners will be in acquiring tenant usage data.  The ordinance, as currently written, states that tenants must provide utility data upon landlord request if that landlord cannot obtain the data directly from the utility provider.  It does not specify how property owners are to acquire 12 months of utility statements from the utility provider, but it has outlined penalties for the non-compliance, which may be applied to both the owner and the tenant.  Regarding tenant usage information:

  • Within 30 day of building owner request, tenants must provide all information that the owner cannot get from the utility provider (their usage);
  • Failure of tenant to provide data does not relieve owner from benchmarking;
  • Any violation (including tenant) fine is $100 for first offense, $25 for each additional day.


There are many operational details left out that will require property owners’ attention as the practical problems of implementing the ordinance progresses.  AUM clients utilizing AUM Invoice Processing or AUM’s industry-leading SCORE benchmarking tool may have the operational burden of submitting information to Portfolio Manager lifted, as AUM is and EPA Energy Star partner, with interface capabilities to submit data on their behalf.

Tags: Multifamily, EPA, Chicago, energy benchmarking, energy disclosure, Portfolio Manager, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Sustainabile Chicago 2015, Building Energy Use Benchmarking Ordinance