Monday, December 23, 2013

Americans are buying less electricity. That’s a big problem for utilities.

A poor article, from the Washington Post's Wonkblog, on declining electricity consumption.

Americans are buying less electricity. That’s a big problem for utilities.:
Something very unusual has been happening to the U.S. electricity sector over the past three years.
The U.S. economy keeps growing. People are buying bigger homes and plugging in ever more electronic gadgets. And yet power companies have been selling less and less electricity since 2011...'s a massive break from the past. Ever since World War II, electricity sales in the United States have, for the most part, gone up and up and up.
Flashback - over 3 years ago I wrote:
The U.S. Energy Information Administration's Annual Energy Outlook with Projections to 2035 contains a graph which is very similar to Ontario's long term demand growth change. It is less pronounced, probably as the U.S. had a population shift to the south due to the widespread use of air conditioning. Regardless, the U.S. forecasting doesn't have the trend magically adjust in 2015, and does seem to be headed to where Ontario arrived back around 2002 – which is no growth.
It's a deliberate act of illiteracy to interpret the long-term trend as "up and up and up."

WAPO strengthens the erroneous myth of a sudden conversion by not noting 3 of the first 4 reasons it gives for declining demand are long-term behaviours.
  • Homes have been using less electricity.
  • Office buildings are getting more efficient.
  • Industry has yet to rebound from the recession [note: it's been shrinking as a share of the economy since before that]
  • Solar power and distributed generation is starting to catch on.
The problem the utilities have is regulators - and the press ... and energy literacy:
Ahmad Faruqui and Eric Shultz, two consultants at the Brattle Group, argued that "the drop in electricity demand growth appears to be permanent, not transitory."
They suggested that this shift will call for "new thinking, such as initiatives in many states to decouple a utility's earnings from its sales volumes." (That's already happening: Some 63 utilities in 25 states are now regulated under plans in which they're actually rewarded for promoting efficiency and selling less electricity...
The connection of decoupling and demand reduction programming is stupid.

Utilities should charge for service to allow them to be totally disinterested in consumption.

That's the simple message... one being very much corrupted with the foolish movement forcing a business to discourage the use of its product.

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