Energy Efficiency – The Rosenfeld Effect
The annual amount of electricity uses per person in California only increased by 8% from 1973 to 2007. During the same timeframe, annual per capita electricity consumption (across all sectors) in Texas increased by 41% from 10.2 to 14.4 megawatt-hours with a simultaneous state population increase. These factors yielded a statewide annual electricity sales increase from 123 terawatt-hours (TWh) in 1973 to 344 TWh in 2007. The United States per capita electricity use increased by 54% over this 31 year period.
This stabilization in California’s per capita electricity use shows how choices made by a state can have long-lasting impacts. California made the choice to support energy efficiency in the 1960’s and 1970’s and, as a result, has seen a near-constant level of per capita electricity consumption in California since 1973.
Referred to as the Rosenfeld Effect in honor of Dr. Arthur H. Rosenfeld (often referred to as the “godfather of energy efficiency”), the fact that California has achieves this stable profile demonstrates the ability of a large region in the United States to stabilize its per capita electricity use, effectively offsetting some of its demand with efficiency instead of generation. This year, Dr. Rosenfeld was honored by having a unit of measurement named for him. One Rosenfeld represents a savings of three billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year, or the amount of power generated by one 500 MW coal-fired power plant.
Note: The figure used above is an original creation that I made from data collected from the EIA’s website.