US electric consumption is expected to decrease a little in 2020 compared to 2019. 2.4 percent on average. Residential use is expected to increase, after all, people are at home more. “Milder winter temperatures earlier in the year led to lower consumption for space heating, but that factor is offset by increased summer cooling demand and an increase in electricity use by more people working from home.” (Source)

Business and industry power sales will go down.

EIA also tracked how our nation makes power – the fuel. Check the image, left. More on these fuels at the end of this blog.

Measuring the use of power has deep economic meaning to some people. Power usage can be a barometer of economic health. The NY Times reported on the way power use and the last recession synced up. “Electricity usage confirmed almost immediately that the economy had cratered. Moreover, electricity use fell the most in those parts of the country that subsequent data would confirm had experienced the sharpest fall in employment.”

Doesn’t mean this will be the case in the future, though. “Today’s social isolation economy is very different from the pre-pandemic economy. The loss of output resulting from shuttered factories will clearly be visible in reduced electricity usage, but other changes — such as differences in the energy intensity of working from home rather than in an office — might yield more ambiguous signals.” (Source)

How about 2021 power usage? It looks to be something like 2020 according to the Energy Information Agency. The EIA published a look at the past couple years and forward to 2021, highlighting the fuels that will make our power.

Highlights of the report:

  • EIA expects the share of U.S. electric power sector generation from natural gas-fired power plants will increase from 37% in 2019 to 39% this year.
  • In 2021, the forecast natural gas share declines to 34% in response to higher natural gas prices. Coal’s forecast share of electricity generation falls from 24% in 2019 to 20% in 2020 and then increases to 22% in 2021.
  • Electricity generation from renewable energy sources rises from 17% in 2019 to 20% in 2020 and to 22% in 2021. The increase in the share from renewables is the result of planned additions to wind and solar generating capacity.
  • EIA expects a decline in nuclear generation in both 2020 and 2021, reflecting recent and planned retirements of nuclear generating capacity.