In its recent annual electricity report, the International Energy Agency found that U.S. electricity demand is likely to grow in the next three years. It projects a growth of about 2.5% in 2024, with smaller gains of about 1% in 2025 and 2026. As demand rises, following a valley in 2023 due to milder weather, it will be important to maintain grid reliability accordingly.
This growth of demand is attributed to electrification spurred on by subsidies from the Inflation Reduction Act and other recent legislation. Demand will also come from the building sector and from the proliferation of data centers. As demand growth continues, it’s essential that both supply and reliability keep pace. Even modest increases in electricity demand become difficult to handle coinciding with policies and administrative decisions that make reliable power production more difficult.
Two energy rules from the Biden administration stand out because of the difficulties that they create for reliable electric generation.
First is the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed power plant rule, which would close a large number of coal and natural gas plants in the next decade. The rule pushes some gas and all coal plants toward closure in the 2030s if technologically infeasible emissions standards were not met through as of yet unproven means. This would have significant impacts on supply, especially because coal and natural gas are among the grid’s most reliable generators.
This action comes at a time when reliable generation is at a premium, and the grid is already vulnerable in many areas of the country.
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