In today’s rapidly changing energy industry, efficiency measures seldom show up in the headlines—slow, steady improvements simply don’t have much `sizzle.’ But while they may be boring, these slow, steady improvements are rewriting the rules in the utility industry.
The latest indication of just how important these efficiency-related changes are occurred last month when the North American Electric Reliability Corporation released its annual long-term reliability assessment (which can be found here) of the U.S. bulk power electric system. For the first time, NERC said, its 10-year forecast for the annual growth rate in both summer and winter peak demand had dropped below 1 percent—“falling to the lowest rates on record.”
Continue reading Slow And Steady:
Hold Utility Load Growth
To Record Lows
It is a small project by almost any objective standard, but the just-completed LED lighting retrofit at NRG Stadium, home to the NFL’s Houston Texans, is big news, underscoring the dramatic changes under way in the commercial/institutional lighting market—changes that threaten to undercut future demand growth in the already slow-growing electric utility sector.
The stadium retrofit, which is scheduled for a national unveiling during the Texans’ Thursday, Oct. 9th home game, the first night game using LED lighting according to NRG, involved replacing the existing lighting system with some 65,000 light emitting diodes. At full power, NRG said, the new lighting array will use 337 kilowatts of electricity—60 percent less than the 842 kilowatts used by the old unit.
And that is why this smallish project is such big news—companies and local and municipal governments around the country are doing exactly the same thing as NRG, they are replacing older, inefficient incandescent lighting with highly efficient and long-lasting LEDs, and along the way they are cutting deeply into future utility electricity sales.
Continue reading LEDs Pose Big Threat
For Slow Growing
Electric Utility Industry
It is enough to make utility executives wake up in a cold sweat each and every night: Growth in electricity demand has essentially flatlined and it shows no signs of returning. EIA’s latest forecast (see chart below) showing growth at about 1 percent annually through 2040 is worrisome enough. But it may be about to get even worse.
In a little-noticed report released earlier this month, Navigant Research projected that residential utility customers will invest “more than $625 billion cumulatively, in DER [distributed energy resources] from 2014 through 2023.’’ Now, while that is a global total, it is still a lot of money in anybody’s book.
Continue reading Load Growth Woes
Likely Keeping Execs
Up At Night