This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

August 14, 2002

U.S. Electric Power Use Achieves New Record

A nationwide heat wave led the U.S. electric power industry to produce a record amount of electricity in late July and early August, generating 90,640 gigawatthours (GWh) for the week ending August 3rd, according to the Edison Electric Institute (EEI). The electricity produced represents about a 3 percent increase over the record from last year. See the EEI press release.

Whether the EEI numbers have any real significance is somewhat open to debate. The factors that most affect reliability are the balance between the customer electrical load and the ability to generate and transmit power to meet that load, factors that operate on a state or regional basis. The high amount of electricity generated in one week means that a large area of the country drew a high electrical load for a large part of the week, but it does not reflect how well individual utilities were able to meet their demand. In fact, only localized power disruptions were noted by electric utilities during the heat wave.

For those worried about high electrical consumption, it may be worthwhile to review a May report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). The ACEEE report found that energy efficiency programs in California, New York, and New England reduced peak demand by more than 4,300 megawatts in 2001—the equivalent of about 15 medium-sized power plants. See the ACEEE press release.

Need some suggestions to reduce your own electrical demand? See the "No Sweat" tips from the Alliance to Save Energy.