The white paper “Why is Electricity No Longer Growing?” posits that the recession alone can’t explain the stagnation in electricity use in recent years. Electricity sales were growing more than 2 percent a year in the early 1990s. In the past few years, growth has stopped and retail electricity sales in 2012 were 1.9 percent lower than in 2007, the peak year.
The ACEEE’s analysis of electricity trends since 1993 suggests that savings from energy efficiency programs and policies such as appliance standards and building codes are having a broad national impact on consumption in the US. The electricity savings from these programs and policies could have contributed significantly to the decline, according to the ACEEE.
Between 2007 and 2012, savings from energy efficiency programs and policies as well as warmer weather appear to be the most important contributors to declining electricity use in the residential and commercial sectors. Energy efficiency programs didn’t appear to have the same effect on the industrial sector’s use of electricity, the ACEEE says.
The decline in this period is consistent with the ramp-up of energy efficiency savings from utility industry-led program and from appliance and equipment efficiency standards that took effect after 2007.
Other factors, including GDP and electricity prices did not change much from the same six-year period.
A two-year-old study by ACEEE projects appliance, equipment, and lighting standards will save businesses and consumers more than $1.1 trillion by 2035, while cutting greenhouse gases and other emissions.
The study found that updating existing standards and setting new standards for additional products between now and 2015 could net consumers and businesses another $170 billion and reduce pollution even further.