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Retail sales of electricity are reflecting the high numbers of Americans who continue to work from home due to the pandemic, according to the latest federal energy statistics.
In its latest
Short-Term Energy Outlook, the Energy Information Administration forecasts a 3.5% rise in retail sales to the residential sector as more people telework and crank up their HVAC.
Overall, though, the nation’s use of electricity will fall by 2.4% this year as restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic shutter or limit business operations, according to the EIA.
The agency’s latest outlook projects that electricity demand will drop to 3,802 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) in 2020 from 3,896 billion kWh in 2019. Retail sales to the commercial sector are expected to fall by 6.4% and by 6% to the industrial sector.
By comparison, 2018 was a record year for electricity use across all sectors: 4,003 billion kWh, a 6% rise from the previous year.
EIA predicts renewable energy’s share of generation will maintain its steady growth, rising from 17% in 2019 to 20% in 2020 and 22% in 2021.
“The increase in the share from renewables is the result of planned additions to wind and solar generating capacity,” the report said.
At the same time, EIA expects a decline in nuclear generation in both 2020 and 2021, reflecting recent and planned retirements of nuclear plants.
EIA continues to forecast lower energy-related carbon dioxide emissions. After decreasing by 2.8% in 2019, CO2 is expected to fall by 10% in 2020. In comparison, the September 2019 report predicted only a 1% drop in CO2 emissions for 2020.
Drivers fueling up their cars will continue to see low prices. A gallon of regular gasoline, at $2.19, is 44 cents lower than at the same time last year, the report said. Declining prices will likely last through the rest of 2020, falling to an average of $2.03 per gallon.