Jul 23, 2021 - Energy & Environment

A snapshot of warming's effect on energy use

Chart of power demand
Data: EIA; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

A brief new analysis explores how the staggering Pacific Northwest heat wave led to higher summer power demand — a topic policymakers must grapple with as the planet warms.

Driving the news: The Energy Information Administration looked at demand in several regions at 5 p.m. — when northwest temperatures often peak — in the three weeks after the summer solstice.

The big picture: The chart above captures two of the regions, and as you can see, demand trended significantly higher than the same stretches in 2019 and 2020.

  • Higher heat prompts increased energy use for air conditioners, fans, dehumidifiers and other equipment, they note.
  • Air conditioning use is increasing in the region too.
  • Portland, Oregon hit 116°F during the heat wave, while other Pacific Northwest areas also broke all-time records with similar readings.

How it works: EIA tracked 5 pm demand in regions called "balancing authorities" that contain the three cities they analyzed (two of them are above).

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