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San Diego Gas & Electric

Demand Growth and the New Normal

It’s tempting to attribute the recent slowdown in electricity demand growth entirely to the Great Recession, but consumption growth rates have been declining for at least 50 years. The new normal rate of demand growth likely will be about half of its historic value, with demand rising by less than 1 percent per year. This market plateau calls for a new utility strategy.

Figure 1 - Electricity Sales Growth (Two-Decade Distributions)
Figure 2 - Cumulative Demand Growth (2010-2035)
Figure 3 - Arc of Price Responsiveness
Figure 4 - Impact of Codes and Standards on Electricity Consumption
Figure 5 - Efficiency Gains of ENERGY STAR Qualified Models
Figure 6 - ERCOT Loads in Texas (3/9/11 and 8/3/11)
Author Bio: 

Ahmad Faruqui is a principal at The Brattle Group, and Eric Shultz is a research analyst. This article was revised from Faruqui’s presentation at the Goldman Sachs Power & Utility Conference on Aug. 14, 2012. The authors acknowledge research assistance by Jennifer Palmer.

Five forces are putting the squeeze on electricity consumption.

Rooftop Tsunami

A growing wave of rooftop PV projects is starting to look ominous to some utilities. Will lawmakers accept utilities’ warnings at face value—or will they suspect they’re crying wolf?

Sidebar Title: 
Transition to a PV World
Sidebar Body: 

Keeping the lights on in a world of mushrooming solar rooftops requires several key technology and policy developments. During the 2012 EEI Annual Convention, panelists on a session titled “Distribution 2020: Implications of a Rapidly Evolving Distribution Grid,” offered several suggestions for managing the transition.

Technology requirements:

• Bi-directional smart grid

• New safety protocols

• Uniform interconnection standards

• Integrated distribution management systems (DMS)

Policy requirements:

• Focus incentives on installations in preferred locations

• Push the limits of demand response with direct load control

• Plan holistically—account for the total costs of distributed generation

• Apply formula rates to keep utilities whole

• Accelerate depreciation appropriately

Author Bio: 

Michael T. Burr is Fortnightly’s editor-in-chief. Email him at

Utilities sound the alarm as PV nears grid parity.

CPUC Targets Privacy Worries

Setting the Standard for Smart Meter Data Privacy
The California Public Utility Commission’s recent proposed rule aims to protect customer privacy while also facilitating third-party access to smart meter data for energy management, demand response and other customer service applications. But does it go far enough?