Energy Usage Perceptions False / U.S. Consumption Changed Little since 1973, Says Randolph

Article excerpt

Capital invested in energy production over recent years may have been attracted by a false perception that energy consumption has increased, says James Randolph, president of Kerr-McGee Coal Corp.

Actual data points to the contrary, he said, and projections for the next 10 years are for moderate growth at the most - possibly 2.4 percent per year.

The total amount of energy consumed in the United States last year was only slightly above 1973 levels, said Randolph.

Compared to 74.29 quadrillion British Thermal Units (BTUs) consumed in 1973, Kerr-McGee estimates 1985 consumption at about 75 quadrillion BTUs.

That would be an increase of less than 1 percent.

"The past 12 years are perceived by many to be a period of great growth (in energy consumption)," Randolph points out, "which has attracted large amounts of new capital, begetting enlarged capacityto produce energy in its various forms."

Complete data for 1985 is not yet available, Randolph said, but compared to 1973, consumption in 1984 was down 1.3 percent to 73.3 quadrillion BTUs.

Demand for oil and natural gas still accounted for the majority of energy in the nation, but their use declined during those years. Consumption of coal increased significantly, and there was dramatic growth in non-traditional energy sources.

Nuclear power, for example, increased 290 percent, Randolph reported.

Although there have been no nuclear plants licensed since 1978, total power from nuclear increased 27.6 percent between 1979 and 1984.

According to Randolph, consumption by source in 1984, compared to 1973, included:

- Petroleum - down 11 percent to 31 quadrillion BTUs consumed in 1984 from 34.84 quadrillion BTUs consumed in 1973.

- Natural gas - down 19.9 percent to slightly more than 18 quadrillion BTUs in 1984 from 22.5 quadrillion BTUS in 1973.

- Coal - up 32.5 percent to 17.2 quadrillion BTUs in 1984 from 12.98 quadrillion in 1973.

- Hydroelectric Power - up 25.5 percent to 3.78 quadrillion BTUs in 1984 from 3 quadrillion in 1973. …