HOUSTON, March 6 (Xinhua) -- U.S. net electricity generation increased by 4 percent in 2018, reaching a record high of 4,178 million megawatthours (MWh), the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Wednesday.
It was the first time that total utility-scale generation surpassed the pre-recession peak of 4,157 million MWh set in 2007, according to EIA's Electric Power Monthly.
Meanwhile, both the residential and commercial sectors reached all-time highs for retail sales of electricity in 2018, largely attributable to a hot summer and cold winters, said the report.
Weather was the primary driver of year-to-year fluctuations in electricity demand. About 87 percent of U.S. households cool their homes in the summer with air conditioning, and about 35 percent of homes use electricity as their primary heating source during the winter, said EIA, adding that "the hot summer and relatively cold winter months of 2018 contributed to increased retail electricity sales to the (residential) sector, up 6 percent from the previous year."
Electricity use in commercial buildings was also affected by the weather but to a lesser degree. According to EIA figures, electricity sales to the commercial sector last year increased by 2 percent over 2017; electricity use in the industrial sector has been relatively unchanged in recent years, with 2018 electricity sales to this sector 3 percent lower than in 2017.
The remaining sales of electricity EIA tracks were used in transportation and routinely accounted for less than a quarter of a percent of sales, added the monthly.
In the long term, EIA projected that electricity consumption will continue to grow but at a slower pace than in recent decades. Economic and population growth are the primary drivers of rising electricity demand.
Electricity sales to the residential and commercial sectors are expected to grow more slowly as improvements in technology and energy efficiency standards moderate electricity consumption growth, according to EIA.