09 March 2018

U.S. Electricity demand has been flat for ten years

The chart above shows no increase in electricity sales (the blue line) in the U.S. since 2007 despite a growing economy (GDP upper line).  Discussed at Vox:
The US electricity sector is in a period of unprecedented change and turmoil. Renewable energy prices are falling like crazy. Natural gas production continues its extraordinary surge. Coal, the golden child of the current administration, is headed down the tubes. In all that bedlam, it’s easy to lose sight of an equally important (if less sexy) trend: Demand for electricity is stagnant. Thanks to a combination of greater energy efficiency, outsourcing of heavy industry, and customers generating their own power on site, demand for utility power has been flat for 10 years, and most forecasts expect it to stay that way...

“TVA now expects to sell 13 percent less power in 2027 than it did two decades earlier — the first sustained reversal in the growth of electricity usage in the 85-year history of TVA.”

... the US utility sector was built around the presumption of perpetual growth. Utilities were envisioned as entities that would build the electricity infrastructure to safely and affordably meet ever-rising demand, which was seen as a fixed, external factor, outside utility control. But demand is no longer rising... 
Worthwhile reading for anyone with funds invested in electric utilities.


  1. i was surprised when i read that a few weeks ago. at my local library, i see patrons recharging their portable devices there while using the wireless internet. my initial reaction was that the patrons were using less electricity at home because they were siphoning off electricity wherever they went by recharging their portable devices on the go (i.e., at libraries, cafes, the internet street kiosks in nycity, etc.).

    i imagine the switches from incandescent to curly tube and LED lighting adds to lower electricity consumption?

    this does pose the question of what is the total electrical consumption - batteries in portable devices, power grid, etc., all added up?


  2. At my day job, we sell operational software to both public and private markets. Among our available software is an energy accounting platform that allows entities and organizations to monitor and audit their energy consumption and spend. Among our clients are K-12 districts across the US. On one hand, I'm continuously surprised by how many districts leave facilities "on" during long weekends and breaks, or long after the last teacher had exited the building. On the other hand, I'm optimistic and hopeful how many other districts have implemented inexpensive energy management and conservation options just by watching trends and inspecting usage and adjusting behaviors. Those with means are also retrofitting lighting and installing building automation systems to simply be more efficient. One district saved $1.5MM in spend by simply implementing new policies on after hour usage in 18 buildings. That's tangible savings. Unfortunately, rarely do those savings find their way back into the classroom...the decline of brick and mortar malls and stores also has to be having an impact to the flatline trends on consumption...


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