The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the electric utility industry, including electric cooperatives in Texas, as many folks continue to work from home and reduce their outside activities—as they have for several months. The result is a reduction in electricity consumption, decline in greenhouse gas emissions and shifts in power generation markets.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration in July forecast a 4.2% decrease in electricity consumption this year compared to 2019 because of the pandemic and its economic effects. The most dramatic toll can be seen in the commercial sector, where the EIA predicted a 7% decline in electricity sales as businesses closed or scaled back operations because of the virus. The agency forecast a 5.6% decline in the industrial sector for the year.
Residential electricity sales, however, are expected to remain steady, as lower electricity use in the first quarter of the year for heating has been offset by more consumption during the remainder of 2020 as people spend more time at home due to the pandemic.
Trinity Valley Electric Cooperative continues to closely monitor the situation and stand up for you, our member-owners, whether you are working at home or cutting back expenses at the workplace: The lights will stay on.
But there’s a glimmer of good news: The EIA predicted a 12.2% decrease in energy-related carbon dioxide emissions for the year, depending on the course of our nation’s economic recovery.
The pandemic is also disrupting power generation resources in ways few could have predicted. The EIA reported that it expects natural gas consumption to decline by 3% in 2020, mainly driven by lower consumption in the industrial sector because of efforts to slow the spread of the virus and a reduction in economic activity. Natural gas use is expected to further decrease in 2021, by 5%, because of a rise in natural gas prices.
Consequently the use of natural gas in power generation will likely decline, and coal is expected to become more competitive again for electricity generation, according to the EIA’s forecast. The use of coal in the generation sector had been falling, accounting for 24% of production in 2019 and 18% in 2020, but it’s expected to rise slightly, to 21%, in 2021, because of the pandemic.
The use of renewables in electric power generation continues to climb, and that pattern seems likely to continue, with renewables expected to make up 22% of the national electric power generation portfolio in 2021.
Natural gas produces about 50% of Texas’ electricity generation currently, according to the U.S. Department of Energy; coal 32%; renewables 7%; and nuclear 9%. Other sources are petroleum and hydropower, making up a very small percentage each.
Whatever the future holds, remember that TVEC is always looking out for its members. From weighing the best power sources that help guarantee economical prices on electricity to sharing ways to conserve electricity, your cooperative is on your side.