State of the Regional Economy and Energy Markets in 2017

Strong economic growth and extreme weather contributed to an uptick in electricity sales

In a presentation to the Council's power committee in December, Massoud Jourabchi, manager of economic analysis, reviewed the economic data for 2017 as part the Council's load forecasting.

The regional economy continues to grow, adding more than half a million jobs since 2008 and exceeding pre-recession job levels. Some key points noted by Jourabchi:

  • Unemployment is at historically low levels
  • Housing affordability is pushing more households to apartments
  • Elder care facilities are increasing, reducing need for single-family housing
  • In the energy sector, energy efficiency jobs make up the largest share of employment
  • The region should consider time of use rates and price signals to consumers when electricity use peaks, which would improve the efficiency of the power system 

Demand for electricity was up sharply from 2016, due largely to an extremely cold winter and hot summer, which increased use of heating and air conditioning. Overall, cold winters and hot summers have been driving load demand and peaks in demand. Long term, peaks in summer electricity is expected to outpace annual energy and winter peak needs.

Preliminary data on 2018 demand shows that for the first nine months, demand for electricity was down by about 3 percent compared to the first nine months of 2017. This translates to 612 average megawatts of lower demand.