As a consequence of the severe economic downturn and very mild summer temperatures, electric output in the U.S. decreased 3.7% percent in 2009 as compared to 2008. This is the largest year-on-year percentage decline since 1938 and marks the second consecutive year that electric output has declined (-0.9% in 2008).
Data compiled by EEI in the Weekly Electric Output (WEO) report show that in 2009, the U.S. electric industry made available for distribution in the continental U.S. 3,913,771 gigawatthours (GWh) of electricity, which is the lowest annual amount since 2004.
Historical data indicate a close relationship between U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and electricity output (see chart below), and the most recent economic data indicate that the current recession has been extremely severe: Average annual GDP, a measure of national economic output, fell by 2.9% from the third quarter of 2008 through the third quarter of 2009 (as reported by the U.S. Department of Commerce's Bureau of Economic Analysis), which is the largest year-on-year decline in GDP in over sixty years. Industry was particularly hard hit, as evidenced by a drop in the average annual index of industrial production (based on data provided by the Federal Reserve Board through November 2009) of 10.3% compared to the prior 12-month period. In 2009, this index fell to its lowest level in over ten years.
On a regional basis, all nine EEI regions had electric output decreases relative to 2008, with the Central Industrial and West Central regions showing the biggest declines at 6.0% and 5.4%, respectively, while the South Central region had the smallest drop at 1.1%.
Total cooling degree-day (CDD) yearly totals for 2009, as compiled by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), were much lower than normal in the populous Northeast and Midwest regions, which dampened electricity cooling usage significantly during the period of highest electricity demand. The East North Central region had CDD totals in 2009 that were 28% lower than normal while the West North Central region had CDD totals that were 24% lower than normal.
Because of the mild summer temperatures, there were no individual weekly output records set in 2009. In fact, the highest weekly output total in 2009 was 88,713 GWh, which was 10% less than the WEO all-time record high of 98,583 GWh set back in early August of 2006.
- EEI's Weekly Electric Output (WEO) report, the only comprehensive report of its kind in the U.S. to measure electricity demand on a weekly basis is now in its 78th year of existence and is available to EEI members and other subscribers.
- For further information please contact Ed Legge, EEI Media Relations, 202-508-5074, email@example.com