Electricity: Generation Mix Has Shifted, and Growth in Consumption Has Slowed, Affecting System Operations and Prices

Government Accountability Agency

…Why GAO Did This Study

Electricity in the United States has traditionally been generated largely from coal, natural gas, nuclear, and hydropower energy sources. More recently, various federal and state policies, tax incentives, and research and development efforts have supported the use of renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, and geothermal. In addition, consumption of electricity has been affected by federal efforts to improve energy efficiency, changes in the economy, and other factors.

GAO was asked to provide information on changes in the electricity industry. This report examines what is known about (1) how electricity generation and consumption have changed since 2001 and (2) the implications of these changes on efforts to maintain reliability, and on electricity prices.

GAO analyzed data on electricity generation, consumption, and prices and reviewed literature. GAO also interviewed 21 stakeholders, including government officials, and industry representatives, selected to represent different perspectives and experiences regarding changes in the industry.

GAO is not making recommendations in this report. The Department of Energy and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission reviewed a draft of this report and provided technical comments that GAO incorporated as appropriate.


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