It is not good news for the US electric industry when the Edison Electric Institute begins its 2013 annual review (the last full year report available) of the industry’s financial health with this statement:
As shown in the table U.S. Electric Output, in 2013 the U.S. electric industry made available for distribution in the continental U.S. 3,993,521 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of electricity, an increase of 0.1% over 2012’s total of 3,991,408 GWh. This is the first time since 2010 that there has been a year-to-year increase in U.S. electric output, and 2013’s total was barely above 2005’s 3,992,966 GWh.
Yes, you read that right: “2013’s total was barely above 2005’s”. That is eight years of essentially flat US load growth.
Here’s the regional summary:
On a regional basis, four of the EEI regions experienced increases in electric output in 2013. The South Central region saw the largest year-to-year gain at 1.9%, with the New England, Mid-Atlantic, and Pacific Northwest regions also showing growth. The Pacific Southwest region saw the largest decrease in output, at -1.5%. The Central Industrial, West Central, and Southeast regions also experienced decreases in output for the year.
In EEI’s system, WV is divided between the Central Industrial region (northern and western WV) and the Southeast (southeastern WV).
When EEI normalized its data for 2013 weather conditions, here’s what happened:
On a weather-adjusted basis, electric output actually declined in 2013 by 0.6%.
Here’s EEI’s explanation:
The anemic rebound [in the economy] continues to impact electricity sales in every sector, although increases in the adoption of energy efficiency are also contributing to the protracted weakness in sales.
When the industry identifies energy efficiency measures as “contributing to the protracted weakness in sales” look for the kinds of political and regulatory attacks on efficiency standards that we have seen in OH from FirstEnergy. Big holding companies don’t like “protracted weakness in sales.” If EEI is saying outright that energy efficiency is hurting the industry’s profitability, then it is.
The era of flat demand represents a whole new world for the US electricity industry, and the corporations that dominate the industry are having a very hard time adjusting to it.