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Power Demand In U.S. Falls To Nearly Two Decade Low

As stay-at-home orders keep businesses shuttered across much of the United States, electricity demand has fallen to a near 17-year low, according to analysts at the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) trade group, as cited by Reuters.

Over the last week ending April 11, US power output fell to just 64,177 gigawatt hours—down 6.1% for the same week last year, and the lowest weekly output since mid-2003.

This drop in power demand is coinciding with a drop in prices as well, leading to a sell-off in wholesale US electricity markets, according to the Financial Times. It will mean a smaller bottom line for power companies, which some suggest may shift demand away from fossil fuels and toward wind and solar.

Power futures, according to data from Nodal Exchange cited by FT, have dropped between 22 percent and 37 percent over the last two months.

New York City and California are the two markets taking the hardest hit to power demand. In New England, according to the regions electric grid operator ISO New England, electricity demand has fallen between 3% and 5%, pushing prices to new lows.

The EIA has estimated that the virus lockdowns and subsequent economic slowdown would reduce commercial sector power demand by 4.7% over 2020. Industrial demand, the EIA estimates, will sink 4.2%.

U.S. power consumption overall in 2020 is expected to fall 3%, the EIA said.

Power demand isn’t the only thing falling in the United States. The price of a barrel of WTI crude oil fell below $20 per barrel as of Wednesday, the lowest level in 19 years as the coronavirus pandemic and chronic oversupply continues to wreak havoc in the oil markets.

By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com

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