July 31, 2014
Electric Utilities Get No Jolt From Gadgets, Improving Economy (REBECCA SMITH, July 28, 2014, WSJ)
Posted by Orrin Judd at July 31, 2014 8:25 PMFive years and an economic recovery later, electricity sales at the Columbus, Ohio-based power company still haven't rebounded to the peak reached in 2008. As a result, executives have had to abandon their century-old assumption that the use of electricity tracks overall economic conditions."It's a new world for us," says Chief Executive Nick Akins.Utility executives across the country are reaching the same conclusion. Even though Americans are plugging in more gadgets than ever and the unemployment rate had dropped at one point to a level last reported in 2008, electricity sales are looking anemic for the seventh year in a row.Sluggish electricity demand reflects broad changes in the overall economy, the effects of government regulation and technological changes that have made it easier for Americans to trim their power consumption. But the confluence of these trends presents utilities with an almost unprecedented challenge: how to cope with rising costs when sales of their main product have stopped growing.