U.S. energy demand is expected to grow by nearly one-third between 2000 and 2020, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA) which recently released the reference case forecast of its Annual Energy Outlook 2002 (AEO2002). Demand is projected to increase from 99 quadrillion Btu in 2000 to 131 quadrillion Btu in 2020, 4 quadrillion Btu higher than projected by EIA last year.

The forecast includes nuclear generation declining at a slower rate compared to last year's projections, partly due to lower assumed costs for maintaining operation of existing plants. Although the U.S. economy is currently experiencing a slowdown, the economy is expected to recover by mid-2002 and increase at an average annual rate of 3.0% through 2020, very similar to last year's forecast. However, energy demand is expected to be higher than in last year's forecast in both the commercial and transportation sectors.

Commercial floorspace is projected to grow at an average annual rate of 1.7% between 2000 and 2020, compared to the rate of 1.2% projected last year, consistent with recent historical trends. More rapid floorspace growth boosts energy demand by more than 2 quadrillion Btu in 2020 over last year's forecast.