When I started reading a new Government Accountability Office report on the impact of new coal-burning power plants in Texas on air quality, one line stood out right away: “The Department of Energy (DOE) predicts that demand for electricity will increase nationally by 26 percent between 2007 and 2030.”
The Census Bureau’s population clock estimates the U.S. population at 307,084,125. The Bureau currently estimates that the U.S. population will be 373,504,000 in 2030, an increase of 21.6 percent.
Notice a difference? The Government Accountability Office is currently working under the presumption that electrical usage in the United States will increase at a higher rate than the population. That means that the Department of Energy assumes in its analysis that Americans will be using more electricity in the future than they are now, even though technology ought to become a great deal more energy efficient between now and then.
The Department of Energy is making the educated guess that Americans will increase their consumption of electricity because of changes of want, rather than changes of need.
It doesn’t have to be that way. We can choose to use less electricity now, and make further reductions through better technology in the future. We could be using 26 percent less electricity in 2030, rather than 26 percent more.
The estimates made by the Department of Energy are not our nation’s destiny.