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Lower electricity bills predicted for summer

Energy forecasters are projecting that summer electric bills will fall to their lowest level in four years, largely due to what they expect will be a mild summer — notwithstanding Tuesday’s 90-plus-degree temperatures in Boston.

From June through August, the average New England household is expected to spend $329 on electricity, down 2.9 percent from the same period last year, according to the US Energy Department. Nationally, the average electric bill is projected to decline 2.5 percent to $395.

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Even though electricity prices are expected to increase slightly this summer, households are forecast to use less of it; demand is estimated to fall by about 4 percent in New England and 4.6 percent nationally because of milder temperatures, according to the Energy Department.

“The result is lower power bills for most US households during June, July, and August, when air conditioning is used the most,” the Energy Information Administration said in a post on its website.

Tancred Lidderdale, an Energy Department analyst, said it is a classic good news-bad news scenario. The bad news: Electricity prices, driven down in recent years by cheap supplies of domestically produced natural gas burned to generate power, have begun to rebound.

“The good news is we’re buying less,” Lidderdale said.

Whether consumers will get relief on their energy bills is in question. Forecasters at the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center appear to differ with the Energy Department. They expect a warmer summer overall, although weather will vary from region to region, with much of the West and Midwest baking and in drought, and much of the Southeast getting rain.

At the National Weather Service office in Taunton, meteorologist Hayden Frank said Boston-area temperatures have averaged about 1.8 degrees above normal for June, despite some swings in the temperature from day to day.

“The first day of June we were 92 degrees and then six days later, on June 7, we had a high of 58 degrees,” Frank said.

Local utilities, meanwhile, expect their customers to pay slightly more in the summer months this year.

The average NStar residential customers can expect to spend $86.78 on electricity this July, about $7 more than last year, while Western Massachusetts Electric Co. customers will pay $89.60 on average, or about $10 more, said Caroline Pretyman, a spokeswoman for the utilities.

Erin Ailworth can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @ailworth.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of Caroline Pretyman, a spokeswoman for Northeast Utilities, the parent company of NStar and Western Massachusetts Electric Co.

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