Electricity Use in California: Past Trends and Present Usage Patterns

Speaker(s): 
Date: 
May 16, 2002 - 12:00pm
Location: 
Bldg. 90

Was explosive growth in electricity demand the root cause of the California power crisis? Was our downfall caused by the Internet; cell phone rechargers;  and other new uses of electricity that we just couldn't live without? Despite all the media attention paid during the power crisis to the use of electricity and the lack of generating capacity, very little retrospective work has been done to examine the role that growing electricity demand played in causing the crisis. This talk presents work conducted at LBNL to try to fill this information gap by providing a general overview of electricity consumption and peak load in California at the end-use level. The talk will cover the growth in electricity demand between 1980 and 2000, as well as the composition of electricity end-uses in 1999. One of the main conclusions from this analysis is that electricity use in California in the 1990s did not grow explosively, nor was the amount of growth unanticipated. In both absolute and relative terms, growth in electricity use was greater in the 1980s than the 1990s. During the 1990s, most of the growth in electricity use has been in the buildings sector, particularly commercial buildings. In 2000, the building sector accounted for 2/3 of annual electricity consumption and 3/4 of the summer peak load.

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