Electricity companies: Adapting to plug-ins

AFTER “rate hikes”, the most common phrase in America’s electricity industry these days is “death spiral”. The recession clobbered demand, and it has not recovered. Last year Americans used 2% less electricity than in 2007. The government’s Energy Information Administration reckons demand will grow by less than 1% a year between now and 2040 (see chart).Consumers are buying more electric gadgets than ever, but the power these machines use is tumbling. Electricity consumed by TVs has fallen by a quarter in five years. Tablets and laptops use less than desktop computers, and cloud computing means businesses need fewer power-hungry servers. And then there is “distributed generation”, which covers everything from household solar and geothermal systems to on-site electricity generation by large businesses and college campuses. All steal sales from power companies.The utilities are required to guarantee continuity of the electricity supply, which means they must keep spending on infrastructure and maintenance even as customers build their own power sources. So far the main response of the companies’ generally risk-averse bosses has been to propose…

Link to article: www.economist.com/news/business/21621850-electric-cars-could-help-save-power-utilities-death-spiral-adapting-plug-ins?fsrc=rss|bus

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