Temperatures across the country have soared this summer. The intense heat has driven up electricity demand, as air conditioning and fans are pressed into service to provide much-needed relief.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA), hourly electricity demand in the lower 48 states reached a six-year high earlier in August, on a day that saw extreme temperatures across the country.
The EIA's Hourly Electric Grid Monitor reported that hourly electricity demand in the lower 48 states reached 720 gigawatt-hours (GWh) for the hour ending 5:00 p.m. EDT on Aug. 12, 2021. It was one of the hottest days of the year and saw record-breaking heat.
Not surprisingly, electricity demand also broke a record. According to the EIA, the 720 GWh was the highest reported value for a single hour since balancing authorities began reporting hourly electricity demand to the agency in July 2015. The previous hourly high was 718 GWh reported four years earlier, for the hour ending 6:00 p.m. EDT on July 20, 2017.
The Hourly Electric Grid Monitor is a centralized source for hourly operating data about the high-voltage bulk electric power grid in the lower 48 states. It provides data on hourly electricity use for the 64 balancing authorities that operate the electric grid in these states.
While the spike in August was weather-related, long-term trends for electricity demand are more level. In a separate report, the EIA projects demand in the United States to increase at a slow and steady rate for decades. The agency’s Annual Energy Outlook projects demand to jump back to 2019 (pre-COVID-19) levels in 2022. After that, it will increase at a modest average annual rate of slightly more than 1% in the following decades.