Electricity demand in the US this summer is expected to reach its lowest level since 2009 due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the country's Energy Information Administration (EIA) said Wednesday in a statement.
The EIA said it expects US electricity demand to total 998 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) this summer, from June through August. If realized, this amount would be 5% less compared to last summer, and would also mark the lowest level of summer electricity consumption in the US since 2009.
Quarantine measures against COVID-19 are forcing shut-ins in many businesses, and the EIA said most of the expected declines in retail electricity sales are occurring in the commercial and industrial sectors, which are forecast to be 12% and 9% less, respectively, than last summer.
On the other hand, the EIA expects residential electricity sales will grow by 3% this summer since more people are working from home during quarantine.
"Social distancing guidelines will likely result in Americans spending more time at home than usual this summer," the statement said.
"In addition, many people that had worked in offices are now working from home, shifting electricity demand from the commercial sector to the residential sector," it explained.
- Less generation from coal
Due to less electricity demand, the amount of electricity generation from coal is expected to be lower this summer compared to the same period last year.
The EIA said it estimates coal-fired power plants will generate 178 billion kWh of electricity between June and August, down from 272 billion kWh in the summer of 2019.
Since natural gas prices remain low, more natural gas use is expected for electricity generation, according to the EIA.
Natural gas-fired power plants are forecast to generate 467 billion kWh of electricity this summer, slightly higher than the recorded 460 billion kWh of electricity generated from natural gas last summer.
By Ovunc Kutlu