Non-utility generators’ production rises 48% for 11 months of 2000

By the OGJ Online Staff

HOUSTON, Apr. 3, 2001—Electricity produced by utilities still dominates the U.S. electric power industry.

But reflecting the growing importance of non-utility generation in the U.S. mix, the federal government reported electricity production from that segment of the industry soared 48% during the first 11 months of 2000 to 708 billion kWh, compared to the same 1999 period. Meanwhile, electricity produced by utilities declined 5.5% to 2,755 billion kWh over the same time period.

Total U.S. electricity demand rose 2% to 3,463 billion kWh in the first 11 months of 2000, compared to the corresponding period in 1999, according the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Coal continued account for just over half the fuel used in the nation’s boilers, followed by nuclear, gas, hydro, oil, and renewables.

During the first 11 months of 2000, compared to 1999, residential rates rose to 8.26 cents/kWh from 8.18 cents/kWh, while commercial rates fell 1.3% to 7.20 cents/kWh, and industrial rates declined to 4.44 cents/kWh from 4.45 cents/kWh.

U.S. electricity demand jumped a hefty 6% to 298 billion kWh in November 2000, compared to the year earlier period, the EIA reported. Total sales of electricity to ultimate consumers in the U.S. were 264 billion kWh, a 4% increase over the amount reported in November 1999, the EIA said.

Residential sales climbed 8% to 84 billion kWh over the amount reported in November 1999. Retail sales of electricity in the commercial and industrial sectors were up 5% and 1%, respectively, over amounts reported in November 1999.

Non-utility power producers almost doubled generation to 72 billion kWh in November 2000 from 44.7 billion kWh in the comparable 1999 period, while electric utilities generated 226 billion kWh, down from 235.9 billion kWh in November 1999.

The sale and reclassification of utility plants to non-utility generation continued to effect reporting of fuel receipts to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. For example, the EIA said receipts of gas totaled 177 bcf in October 2000, down from 221 bcf reported in October 1999. The average cost of gas delivered to electric utilities in October 2000 was $5.30/Mbtu, the highest ever reported by electric utilities since data collection began in 1972. In October 1999, the average price was $2.82/Mbtu.

The EIA said as with coal and petroleum, the sale and reclassification of electric plants is having a large affect on gas receipt data in New England, the mid-Atlantic, and Pacific contiguous census divisions, as well as at the national level.

Oil use totaled 9 million barrels, up nearly 1 million barrels from the level reported in October 1999.

While the sale and reclassification of plants has reduced fuel oil receipts over the past year, the EIA said some increase in petroleum receipts may be due to utilities switching from natural gas to less expensive fuel oil as a replacement fuel.

The average delivered cost of fuel oil in October 2000 was $4.87/Mbtu, up from $3.21/Mbtu reported in October 1999.