Jennifer Runyon, Chief Editor, RenewableEnergyWorld.com
December 23, 2013 | 14 Comments
1. Problem: Low Load Growth
The U.S. is building far fewer power plants today than it ever has before. Historically utilities enjoyed load growth in the 3 percent range but those days are gone. Umanoff pointed out that low load growth is the new norm. In some cases, the U.S. has even experienced negative growth. That means that we’re using less energy as a nation (some may call this a good thing) but it also means that the outlook for new generation plants being built is slim to none.
Solution: Rebound is underway.
Much of the negative load growth was due to the great recession, said Umanoff, and thankfully, most people believe that the recession is now behind us. While we won’t return to 2 or 3 percent load growth for a while (if ever), experts predict it to be in the 1 to 1.5 percent ranges for the next 3 to 5 years.
Solution #2: Retiring generation.
“We also are facing the retirement of a significant amount of generation here in the U.S.” said Umanoff. He listed older coal plants that are too expensive to retrofit and nuclear retirements around the country, noting the San Onofre plant in California that was permanently retired in 2013.
“So there will be demand drivers in the near future,” said Umanoff, “and that will help renewables in the near term.”