by Debbie Hollen, Research Associate, BPA
Energy is a critical component of most human activity. It is an important ingredient in industrial production and provides essential services to support our standard of living. It should not be surprising therefore, that the levels of household and business activity in the regional economy are the dominant determinants of electricity demand both now and in the future. The objective of this analysis is to compare actual economic and demographic trends from 1991-2000 with the Council's forecast assumptions, and based on the results make a recommendation regarding changes to the energy demand forecast process for the upcoming fifth power plan.
The energy and economic forecasts were last updated in September of 1995, when the most recent actual data available was for 1993. The comparisons in this analysis highlight areas where economic activity has deviated from the assumptions, identify trends in key economic sectors and demographic measures, and examine the differences for implications for the electricity demand forecast. In addition to looking at the actual data from 1991-1999, the most recent individual short-term State economic forecast information is also compared to the Council's forecasts for years 2000-2003.
Electricity consumption occurs in three primary sectors. Electricity consumed in private homes is included in the residential sector. Electricity consumed in manufacturing business activities is included in the industrial sector. The commercial sector includes electricity consumed in non-manufacturing business activities and includes electricity consumed in office buildings, hospitals, retail stores, restaurants, warehouses etc... The price of electricity and the price of alternative energy forms, such as natural gas, are also important determinants of electricity demand and are key components of the Council's demand forecast. These factors will be evaluated in a future report.