Skip to main content


Log in

Climate change and electricity demand in California

  • Published:
Climatic Change Aims and scope Submit manuscript


The potential effect of climate change on California’s electric power system is an issue of growing interest and importance to the state’s policy makers. Climate change-induced temperature increases may exacerbate existing stresses on this system. Detailed recent data are used to estimate the relationships between temperature and both electricity consumption and peak demand at a sample of locations around California. These results are combined with new projections of regional climate change affecting California obtained by statistically downscaling recent global projections generated by two general circulation models, to yield estimates of potential impacts of future temperature changes on electricity consumption and peak demand, and illustrative economic cost estimates in several cases. Both current and prospective coping strategies, and priorities for further research, are summarized.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Similar content being viewed by others


  • Amato AD, Ruth M, Kirshen P, Horwitz J (2005) Regional energy demand responses to climate change: methodology and application to the commonwealth of Massachusetts. Clim Change 71:175–201

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Baxter LW, Calandri K (1992) Global warming and electricity demand: a study of California. Energy Policy 20(3):233–244

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Borenstein S (2005) Valuing the time-varying electricity production of solar photovoltaic cells. University of California Energy Institute CSEM WP-142, March

  • Carpenter TM, Georgakakos KP (2001) Assessment of Folsom late response to historical and potential future climate scenarios: 1. Forecasting. J Hydrol 249:148–175

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cayan D, Maurer E, Dettinger M, Tyree M, Hayhoe K, Bonfils C, Duffy P, Santer B (2006) Climate scenarios for California. California Energy Commission CEC-500-2005-203-SF

  • CEC (California Energy Commission) (2005) 2005 Integrated Energy Policy Report. California Energy Commission Final Report #CEC-100-2005-007-CMF, November

  • CEC (California Energy Commission) (2006) Electricity consumption by utility type.

  • Darmstadter J (1991) Processes for identifying regional influences of and responses to increasing atmospheric CO2 and climate change – The MINK Project: Report V – Energy. TR052G, DOE/RL/01830T-H11, National technical information service. US Department of Commerce, Springfield, VA 22161

  • Georgakakos KP et al (2005) Integrating climate-hydrology forecasts and multi-objective reservoir management for Northern California. EOS 86(12):22

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hadley SW, Erickson DJ III, Hernandez JL, Thompson SL (2004) Future U. S. energy use for 2000–2025 as computed with temperatures from a global climate prediction model and energy demand model. Paper presented at the 24th United States Association of Energy Economists/International Association of Energy Economists North American Conference, Washington, DC, 2004, July 10

  • Hayhoe K, Cayan D, Field C, Frumhoff P, Maurer E, Miller N, Moser S, Schneider S, Cahill KN, Cleland E, Dale L, Drapek R, Hanemann WM, Kalkstein L, Lenihan J, Lunch C, Neilson R, Sheridan S, Verville J (2004) Emission scenarios, climate change and impacts on California. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 101:12422–12427

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lam JC (1998) Climatic and economic influences on residential electricity consumption. Energ Conserv Manage 39(7):623–629

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Leggett J, Pepper WJ, Swart RJ, Edmonds J, Meira Filho LG, Mintzer I, Wang MX, Wasson J (1992) Emissions scenarios for the IPCC: an update. In Climate Change 1992: The Supplementary Report to the IPCC Scientific Assessment. University Press, Cambridge, UK

  • Mendelsohn R (2003) The impact of climate change on energy expenditures in California. Appendix XI. In: Wilson T, Williams L, Smith J, Mendelsohn R (eds) Global Climate Change and California: Potential Implications for Ecosystems, Health, and the Economy. Consultant report 500-03-058CF to the Public Interest Energy Research Program, California Energy Commission, August

  • Nakicenovic N, Swart R (eds) (2000) Emissions scenarios. Special report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

  • Nordhaus W (1994) Managing the global commons. The MIT Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  • Rosenthal DH, Gruenspecht HK, Moran EA (1995) Effects of global warming on energy use for space heating and cooling in the United States. Energy J 16(2):77–96

    Google Scholar 

  • Sailor DJ, Munoz JR (1997) Sensitivity of electricity and natural gas consumption to climate in the U.S.A. – methodology and results for eight States. Energy 22(10):987–998

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sailor DJ, Pavlova AA (2003) Air conditioning market saturation and long-term response of residential cooling energy demand to climate change. Energy 28:941–951

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Smith JB, Tirpak D (eds) (1989) The potential effects of global climate change on the United States. Report to congress, United States Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Policy, Planning and Evaluation, Office of Research and Development, December

  • USEIA (Energy Information Administration) (2003) Table 6.2: World Total Net Electricity Consumption, 1980–2003. International Energy Annual 2003

  • USEIA (Energy Information Administration) (2006) State Electricity Profiles 2003 Edition, DOE/EIA-0629, data dated 2003, released April 2006

  • Weyant, J, J Hill (eds) (1999) The costs of the Kyoto Protocol: a multi-model evaluation. Energy J (Special Issue)

  • Wood AW, Maurer E et al (2002) Long-range experimental hydrologic forecasting for the eastern United States. J Geophys Res-Atmos 107(D20):4429

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wood AW, Leung LR, Sridhar V, Lettenmaier DP (2004) Hydrologic implications of dynamical and statistical approaches to downscaling climate model outputs. Clim Change 62:189–216

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Yao H, Georgakakos A (2001) Assessment of Folsom Lake response to historical and potential future climate scenarios 2. Reservoir management. J Hydrol 249:176–196

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Guido Franco.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Franco, G., Sanstad, A.H. Climate change and electricity demand in California. Climatic Change 87 (Suppl 1), 139–151 (2008).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: