US electricity demand dropped to a four-year low last month, and that was largely because of the cooling effect of the El Nino weather phenomenon, according to new data from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA).
The US power sector added just 3.2 gigawatts of new capacity in December, which was a fall of 0.2GW from December of last year, according the agency’s Quarterly Electricity Outlook.
It is the lowest level since the US peaked at 7.9GW in January of 2011.
The decline comes despite the fact that US power consumption rose by 1.4GW last month.
This is still the highest monthly increase since November 2010, the first month the El Niño phenomenon began.
The agency said the El Ninos also led to the smallest increase in the nation’s annual energy consumption for the first time in three years, down to 5.4% of the nation as a whole.
The El Ninos effect was particularly pronounced in California, where demand fell to a record low of 3.6GW in December from 3.7GW in November.
That was the lowest monthly increase in three decades.
The EIA expects electricity demand to reach a record high of 8.5GW in 2020, which would be about 50% of total demand in 2020.