2 years ago

American Electricity Consumers Are On A Diet

Corey Tyree, Ph.D., of Southern Research in Birmingham, AL‚a Sr. Policy Advisor for the Energy Institute of Alabama

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Whether it be food or energy or water, Americans are known for consuming more and more. There is at least one exception – electricity. In Alabama, and the U.S. as a whole, we are consuming less and less. Electricity consumption (as measured by electricity sales) has fallen nationally five of the past eight years and only increased 5 percent during the 2000s. Consumption in Alabama lags behind even that slow pace, with consumption actually decreasing 1 percent in the 2000s. And the recovery since the Great Recession has been no recovery at all for Alabama electricity suppliers with consumption of their product again declining (2.2 percent) in the period 2010-2015.

Electricity consumption once strongly correlated with economic growth. When the economy grew, so too did electricity consumption. This correlation had been weakening for decades. Never has this been more evident than in the most recent decade, which saw gross domestic product increase 15 percent while electricity consumption remained flat. Electricity consumption remained flat even as Americans built more homes, built larger homes, constructed new commercial building space, built new information technology infrastructure, migrated westward and southward where space heating and air conditioning is more heavily utilized, and spent more and more of our lives staring at large, bright screens.

These sources of additional electricity consumption are moderated, in some cases dwarfed, by other factors such as 1) building codes that include efficiency measures, 2) slowing population growth, 3) near market saturation of electric appliances, 4) energy efficiency standards (e.g. appliance efficiency standards), 5) success of utility demand-side management programs that resulted in greater adoption of energy efficiency measures, 6) distributed electrical generation (e.g. rooftop solar), and 7) structural changes in the economy to less energy-intensive industries.

The impact of these factors on electricity sales to the residential, commercial, and industrial segments is profound. Programs like U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR reduced electricity consumption an estimated 200 billion kilowatt-hours per year. Homeowners and commercial business owners alike are implementing more efficient technologies that require less electricity than existing stock. Publix reduced electricity usage by about 10 percent by replacing existing incandescent light bulbs with more efficient LED lights. Publix also installed 150,000 kilowatt-hours of distributed solar power generation, which further reduces the amount of electricity they demand from electric utilities. Even energy intensive industries such as steelmaking are finding a way to cut electricity consumption. Electricity consumption from U.S. steelmakers fell 5 percent from 2002 to 2012 even as cost considerations favored increasing production from efficient electric arc furnaces, which receive a greater proportion of their energy from electricity than basic oxygen furnaces. Going forward, the U.S. Energy Information Administration projects the energy intensity of each of the residential, commercial, and industrial segments to continue to fall over the next 25 years.

Economists and other industry experts will tell you the decoupling of electricity consumption and economic growth should come as no surprise. This decoupling is the hallmark of advanced economies, they will tell you. Mature economies tend to require less and less energy to sustain themselves. The experts will point to other advanced economies such as some of the European Union member states (e.g. Belgium) or Japan and explain that electricity demand has also stagnated. While the situation may be old news, we sure do struggle to predict electricity demand for something so well understood. The U.S. Energy Information Administration has continuously revised downwards its electricity consumption projections over the last decade as it badly overestimated electricity demand growth. The most recent 2016 projections peg electricity sales growth at just 0.7 percent per year on average from 2016-2040, or similar to the 0.6 percent growth observed from 2000-2015.

Will the most recent projections of slow growth finally get it right? Electric utilities in Alabama seem to think so. In its most recent Integrated Resource Plan filing, Alabama Power Company states that “customer electrical requirements can be met reliably with the Company’s current supply-side and demand-side resources until 2035.” Likewise, Tennessee Valley Authority, in its most recent IRP filing, states there are “no immediate needs for new base load plants.” It was these same market realities that led TVA to deem the Bellefonte Nuclear Plant site as surplus and sell the plant to private developers. Just like Energy Information Administration, TVA and Alabama Power Company have revised their outlook for electricity demand downward relative to previous analysis, which is saying something because even the older analysis projected historically weak demand growth.

There is a lot we don’t know. Penetration of Distributed generation could accelerate the decline in electricity sales. Stronger than expected electric vehicle sales, economic growth, or full electrification of space heating could have the opposite effect and foster higher levels of electricity demand. Certainly, these things could happen, but that’s not what we should plan for when we have many decades of data suggesting this isn’t a short-term trend caused by year-to-year variation in weather or economic growth. The data suggest a long-term, consistent, and unmistakable reduction in electrical energy intensity across all segments caused by structural changes in our economy that appear irreversible.

Planning for less than 1 percent growth in electricity represents a new era in electric utility planning. Historically, electric utilities in the Southeast planned to add new generating capacity every few years to keep up with surging population and economic growth. This faster cadence of construction will be replaced in the new era of planning with a slower pace, one driven by the need to meet slow demand growth, replace the occasional plant retirement, and add new renewable resources to benefit customers.

 About the Author: Guest Contributor Corey Tyree, Ph.D., is Director of Energy & Environment at Southern Research and a Senior Policy Advisor for the Energy Institute of Alabama. The EIA’s mission is to promote reliable, affordable and clean energy to help grow our economy, create high-paying jobs, and build public support for Alabama’s energy industry. Learn more at www.energyinstituteal.org.


The opinions shared by guest contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of Yellowhammer.

2 hours ago

Bradley Byrne slams Democrats’ allegation of ‘bribery’ against President Trump

Republican Rep. Bradley Byrne (AL-01) gave a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives on Tuesday where he slammed Democrats’ latest allegation of “bribery” against President Donald Trump.

“Unfortunately, I must rise again because – like so many times before – the goalposts for impeaching President Trump have moved,” Byrne stated. “At this rate, Nancy Pelosi must be any field goal kicker’s worst nightmare.”

“Since day one – literally day one – it has been abundantly clear that the far-left members of the so-called ‘Squad’ have been moving this Democratic majority closer to impeaching the President,” Byrne continued. “They don’t care why or how. They don’t care what evidence, real or imagined, is used. They only care about the end result – impeaching President Trump so he will not win reelection.”

He added, “As this radical faction gains dominance in the Democrat party, Speaker Pelosi has tried every justification in the book to impeach this president.”

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Byrne then recalled the Democrats’ previous, failed attempts at destroying the Trump administration.

“We were told for years we’d get to impeachment from the Mueller report,” Byrne said. “They said, just wait, wait till the report! It’s going to show Russian Collusion! Well, two years and millions of dollars down the drain, Mueller showed no collusion. The Democrat narrative quickly turned towards ‘obstruction of justice,’ but that too fell flat.”

“But then, Mr. Speaker, the majority got a new gift – the whistleblower,” he continued. “Never mind he had no firsthand knowledge of what he blew the whistle on, never mind he’s a partisan Democrat, never mind he worked with Adam Schiff on his new allegations against President Trump.”

The rest of Byrne’s remarks are as follows:

It was campaign finance violations! Well, that didn’t work. So, then it was quid pro quo! For weeks, that’s all the majority has talked about. Not anymore. Apparently, Mr. Speaker, some highly-paid political consultants warned Speaker Pelosi that quid pro quo did not resonate with the American people. So now, it seems they’ve moved on to another version of impeachment that tested best in their focus groups – the nefarious-sounding ‘bribery.’ It’s bribery! That’s what we will impeach President Trump on!

Well, Mr. Speaker, I think my friends on the other side need to dust off their law books because, unfortunately for their latest impeachment fantasy, bribery isn’t just some word. It’s a real crime with a real definition. And it’s one that this majority cannot prove.

You see, bribery occurs when an individual ‘corruptly’ links receiving something of value in exchange for an official government action.

I say to the majority, show me how asking Ukraine to look into the 2016 election and into the sketchy dealings of Hunter Biden is acting corruptly! Because I’ll tell you what, I’ll show you evidence that Ukrainian officials were working to boost Secretary Clinton, and I’ll show you evidence that the Obama Administration was itself concerned about Hunter Biden’s deals. I think most Americans will say maybe the President of the United States should be looking into those things. I think they will say we want the President looking into possible corruption in our government and interference in our elections.

More importantly, I say to the majority, show me how President Trump linked aid to these investigations! Mr. Speaker, President Trump’s phone call with Ukraine President Zelensky, you know, the one that the whistleblower blew the whistle on, is on the internet! Everyone can read it. And I hope they will. Because nowhere in that call did President Trump ever link any aid to Ukraine in exchange for anything. The President did not one time, not one time, even mention any kind of hold on the aid. Not once!

This is not bribery. This is not impeachable conduct. Yet here we are, trying to remove the President of the United States, the leader of this country, the man chosen by the voters, over these newest allegations. Mr. Speaker, the American people see past this charade. They know this is a partisan political scheme. And at this point, I think most people who are paying attention – those who haven’t tuned out – know this is just the latest effort by Democrats to throw something at the wall and see if it sticks. President Trump has committed no ‘bribery, treason, or high crimes and misdemeanors’ – the only offenses that the Constitution says warrant impeachment.

I ask the majority – when do we stop and get back to the business of the American people? I yield back.

Kyle Morris also contributes daily to Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @RealKyleMorris.

3 hours ago

Alabama AG Steve Marshall leads national coalition defending Second Amendment to SCOTUS

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall continues to be a staunch defender of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

In his latest stalwart act of advocacy for citizens’ right to keep and bear arms, Marshall on Monday filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the State of Alabama and 20 other states.

The brief calls on the Supreme Court to hear (in Malpasso v. Pallozzi) a challenge to a Maryland law that sharply limits the right of typical, law-abiding citizens to carry a handgun outside of the home.

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In a statement, Marshall commented, “The overwhelming majority of states recognize that the Second Amendment allows law-abiding citizens the right to bear arms outside their homes for self-defense.”

“However, a handful of states have decided that citizens’ rights to possess a handgun outside their residence should apply only to when they meet certain limited criteria,” he outlined. “In this case, a Maryland citizen was denied the fundamental right to self-defense because he failed to convince a bureaucrat that he faced some special danger to his safety.”

Marshall continued, “But the right to bear arms is not reserved for just a select few citizens. And there is no question that the Second Amendment right to ‘bear arms’ extends beyond the home. As Justice Clarence Thomas memorably put it: ‘I find it extremely improbable that the Framers understood the Second Amendment to protect little more than carrying a gun from the bedroom to the kitchen.’”

The States of Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and West Virginia joined on to Alabama’s amicus brief.

“A few states have passed laws similar to Maryland’s that severely limit Second Amendment rights, and those laws are rightfully being challenged in federal court as unconstitutional,” Marshall concluded. “Alabama and 20 other states call on the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case of Malpasso v. Pallozzi and decide whether laws that deny law-abiding citizens the right to bear arms infringe on Second Amendment rights.”

Alabama Solicitor General Edmund LaCour and Deputy Solicitor General Barrett Bowdre signed onto Marshall’s amicus brief. LaCour is listed as the counsel of record.

RELATED: Steve Marshall takes issue with multi-state lawsuit to keep 3D-printed gun plans off the internet

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

4 hours ago

Roby: Alabama bicentennial amplified by current ‘extreme economic development and job growth’

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby (AL-02) on Tuesday joined Alabama’s entire U.S. House delegation in honoring the Yellowhammer State’s upcoming bicentennial anniversary on the chamber floor.

In a speech, Roby introduced H. Res. 711, which recognizes the incorporation of Alabama as the 22nd state in the Union on December 14, 1819.

Reps. Bradley Byrne (AL-01), Mike Rogers (AL-03), Robert Aderholt (AL-04), Mo Brooks (AL-05), Gary Palmer (AL-06) and Terri Sewell (AL-07) joined Roby in commemorating the historic milestone.

Roby’s remarks not only mentioned the marker of Alabama’s statehood but lauded its current progress.

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“This is a monumental occasion in our state’s history, and we are looking forward to joining Alabamians in a year full of memorable celebration and commemoration of the bicentennial,” she said. “Alabama is currently experiencing extreme economic development and job growth across the state, which makes this special time even more exciting for us all.”

This comes after it was announced on Friday that Alabama’s unemployment rate dipped below 3% for the first time ever. The state has been breaking economic records consistently, with each month seemingly bringing even better news. The main focus now for the state’s economy is workforce development efforts to increase Alabama’s pool of skilled workers.

Roby, who is not seeking reelection to a sixth term, concluded, “I am grateful to have the opportunity to serve the people of Alabama as we celebrate the birthday and history of the beloved state we all call home.”

Watch:

You can learn more about Alabama’s bicentennial here, including special events across the state.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

4 hours ago

Technology services veteran appointed to lead State of Alabama’s IT operations

Governor Kay Ivey on Tuesday announced that Marty Redden will serve as the permanent Alabama Office of Information Technology (OIT) secretary effective immediately. Redden has been serving as the acting secretary since July.

In a statement, Ivey said, “Since Marty stepped in to OIT as the acting secretary, he has run the agency effectively and with great prudence, and the state will certainly benefit from his leadership in this position. I am confident Marty will continue refining the agency, to make it run successfully and be accountable to the people of Alabama.”

“His decades of experience in the technology field is already paying off for OIT and our other state agencies, which is why I am proud that he will continue serving in this capacity,” she advised.

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Redden has three decades of experience in the IT field, include 20 years in management.

He began his career in banking and finance technology. In 2007, he transitioned to a career in state service. Redden has since held high-level management positions in the Alabama Department of Corrections, the Alabama Medicaid Agency and the state Finance Department. While working with each of these agencies, Redden originated, led and implemented technology advancements and improvements, per a release from the governor’s office.

Redden remarked, “As secretary of OIT, my overriding mission is to provide Alabama’s state government with the best technology services at the smallest cost to the taxpayers we serve. Every service that the state provides to its citizens involve some form of technology, so if we do our job well, countless Alabamians will get the help they need more quickly, efficiently and effectively.”

“I appreciate the confidence Governor Ivey has placed in me and will work every day to prove it justified,” he concluded.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

5 hours ago

Tua needs our support — Guess who else does

His five words hit home.

Five words that could have been uttered by a Tua Tagovailoa teammate, one of Tua’s parents, an Alabama football fan and, yes, you.

“I feel bad, I’m hurting.”

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Who doesn’t feel bad for one of the greatest quarterbacks not only in Alabama football history, but in college football history? Barring an unlikely return to the Capstone for his senior season, Tua is done in Tuscaloosa. The good news? While it will be a long road, team orthopedic surgeon Dr. Lyle Cain expects Tagovailoa to make a full recovery from the hip injury suffered only days ago. Yes, Tua’s NFL future is bright.

“I feel bad, I’m hurting.”

Those five words could have been uttered by anyone, but the man who said it? Head coach Nick Saban. Yes, the tough, demanding, intimidating coach who rarely reveals his most inner thoughts is hurting, and he shared his heart in Tuscaloosa at his weekly media gathering.

Over the last few days, Saban has been a punching bag for many critics and some fans — their take? The coach is to be blamed for Tua’s injury. After all, they say, it was Saban who had the final say in whether or not his quarterback, still sore from the LSU game and a player who 27 days earlier had ankle surgery, would start against Mississippi State. It was Saban who left Tua in the game despite a big Bama lead deep into the first half of the game. It was Saban who is ultimately responsible for the injury, they allege.

I say hogwash. I say that Nick Saban didn’t hurt Tua, football did.

The bottom line here is that Tua Tagovailoa could have suffered an injury getting off the bus. He could have been injured on his first snap, his final snap or anywhere in between. That’s the cruel sport of football, where injuries occur, even when they are not in the least connected to an earlier injury.

As Tua now begins rehab following Monday’s hip surgery, prayers and well wishes continue to come his way. But I’m here to tell you that Tua’s coach could use some support as well. On the exterior, Nick Saban is all business, the man in charge. He spends long hours at work between 7:30 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. doing what he does. But you can bet that when the coach makes his long, dark drive home late at night, when he tries to fall asleep and when he rises early in the morning, Tua Tagovailoa is on his mind. Is he second-guessing himself? If he is, he shouldn’t be. Do the critics bother him? Remember, even the toughest man on the block has feelings.

Only Nick Saban, Miss Terry and a handful of close friends know what the coach is feeling. As we see a coach who is all business, a coach who has a tough exterior and a no-nonsense flare, I have a strong feeling that Nick Saban is struggling a bit this week. My message? As we pray for Tua and wish him well, perhaps the Alabama football coach can also use our support.

“I feel bad, I’m hurting.”

With those five words, Nick Saban offered us a rare glimpse into his heart. May the Alabama family be reminded that the head of the family can use a few prayers as well.

Rick Karle is a 24-time Emmy winning broadcaster and a special sports contributor to Yellowhammer News. He is also the host of the Huts and Nuts podcast.