April 15, 2020 / 6:04 PM / in 2 months

U.S. power demand falls to near 17-year low as coronavirus cuts use by companies

FILE PHOTO: Downtown Los Angeles is seen behind an electricity pylon through the morning marine layer in Los Angeles, California, U.S., August 20, 2019. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

(Reuters) - U.S. electricity demand last week plunged to a near 17-year low as government travel and work restrictions to slow the coronavirus spread caused businesses to shut, according to analysts and the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) trade group.

EEI said power output fell to 64,177 gigawatt hours during the week ended April 11. That was down 6.1% from the same week in 2019 and was the lowest in a week since May 2003. [EEI/]

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) projected economic slowdown and stay-at-home orders would reduce electricity and natural gas consumption in coming months.

EIA said it expected power sales to the commercial sector to drop by 4.7% in 2020 as many businesses close, while industrial demand will fall by 4.2% as factories shut or reduce output.

Electricity sales to the residential sector, meanwhile, will only decline about 0.8% in 2020, EIA projected, as reduced heating and air conditioning use due to milder winter and summer weather is offset by increased household consumption as many folks stay home.

Overall, EIA said it expects total U.S. power consumption to decline by 3% in 2020 before rising almost 1% in 2021.

Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Marguerita Choy

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