The Austin American-Statesman carried an article this morning by Jonathan Fahey of the Associated Press. Fahey writes:
Over the next decade, experts expect residential power use to fall, reversing an upward trend that has been almost uninterrupted since Thomas Edison invented the modern light bulb.
In part it’s because Edison’s light bulb is being replaced by more efficient types of lighting, and electric devices of all kinds are getting much more efficient. But there are other factors.
New homes are being built to use less juice, and government subsidies for home energy savings programs are helping older homes use less power. In the short term, the tough economy and a weak housing market are prompting people to cut their usage.
Fahey cites figures from the Electric Power Research Institute:
From 1980 to 2000, residential power demand grew by about 2.5 percent a year. From 2000 to 2010, the growth rate slowed to 2 percent. Over the next 10 years, demand is expected to decline by about 0.5 percent a year, according to the Electric Power Research Institute, a nonprofit group funded by the utility industry.
Fahey says that commercial power use has also been revised downward:
Overall demand, including from factories and businesses, is still expected to grow, but at only a 0.7 percent annual rate through 2035, the government says. That’s well below the average of 2.5 percent a year the past four decades.
Power companies have been seeing falling demand this year:
Utility executives have been aware that the rate of demand growth is slowing, but a more dramatic shift than they expected may be under way. Executives were particularly surprised by a dip during the first three months of this year, the most recent national quarterly numbers available. Adjusted for the effects of weather, residential power demand fell 1.3 percent nationwide, an unusually sharp drop.