Here is an interesting piece over at the EIA Web site about the growing disconnect between demand for electricity and overall growth of the US economy.
Here’s the graph that accompanies the article:
And the explanation:
As suggested by data over the past 60 years, EIA’s Annual Energy Outlook 2013 Reference case projections through 2040 show that U.S. electricity use and economic growth will continue to be linked. However, the long-run trend of slowing growth in electricity use relative to economic growth will also continue: the rate of projected growth in electricity use will be less than half the rate of economic growth. In particular, EIA does not expect any sustained return to the situation between 1975 and 1995, when the two growth measures were nearly equal in value, or the earlier period in which the growth rate in electricity use far exceeded the rate of economic growth.
The growth in electricity demand has been significantly slower than GDP growth for decades. In the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s the use of electricity often increased more than 5% per year. It then slowed to 2% to 3% per year in the 1980s and 1990s, and over the past decade it has fallen to less than 1% per year. Over the next three decades, electricity use is expected to continue to grow, but the rate of growth slows over time. The factors driving this trend include slowing population growth, market saturation of major electricity-using appliances, improving efficiency of several equipment and appliance types in response to standards and technological change, and a shift in the economy toward less energy intensive industry.
As I have pointed out in the past, this shift in demand growth trends is playing havoc with the US electricity industry.