Energy use is way down – but wind surges 

By Ben Rooney of CNNMoney.com: Energy use in the United States fell nearly 5% last year, marking the largest annual drop on record, according to an analysis of federal data by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Total U.S. energy use fell in 2009 to an estimated 94.6 quadrillion British Thermal Units, down from 99.2 quadrillion BTUs in 2008. To put that in perspective, the average room air conditioner uses about 10,000 BTUs. This was the largest year-over-year drop since the government began keeping track in 1949, said A.J. Simon, an energy analyst at LLNL.

“Energy use tends to follow the level of economic activity, and that level declined last year,” he said. “Simply said, people are doing less stuff. Therefore, they’re burning less fuel.”

The last time energy use was this low was 1996, when it totaled 94.2 quadrillion BUTs. Despite the drop in overall energy use, Simon said the study also showed a substantial increase in alternative sources of energy, including gains in solar, hydro and wind power. Read more

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