The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which serves about 85 percent of the state's demand, said Thursday that total electricity use across its system fell 2.7 percent last year compared to 2011, the state's hottest year on record. In 2011, ERCOT's electricity demand jumped nearly 5 percent. Those figures compare to average annual growth of about 2 percent in recent years, ERCOT said. ERCOT said it saw decreases in six months last year.
Natural gas widened its lead over coal as the No. 1 fuel for electricity generation, accounting for 44.6 percent of the power provided. That's nearly 11 percentage points more than coal's 33.8 percent, and compared to a difference of just 1.4 percentage points in 2011 and a second-place ranking behind coal in 2010. Nuclear held steady at 11.8 percent of power provided in 2012, following by wind at 9.2 percent, hydroelectric at 0.1 percent and other fuels at 0.5 percent.
Nationally, electricity demand has been sagging in recent years, according to a recent Wall Street Journal report. It reported that "electricity production in the U.S. fell in 2008 and 2009, amid the recession, then ticked up slightly in 2010 before falling again in 2011."