June 3 Update: Latest Trends in Estimated Load Impacts of COVID-19 Mitigation Policies

 Estimated Load Impacts of COVID-19 Mitigation Policies on North American and European Electricity Consumption
This data is for March 15, 2020 – May 31, 2020

As previously discussed in the first of this blog series on April 13, the Itron Forecasting Team is leveraging publicly available hourly load data for most North American Independent System Operators (ISOs) to build a picture of the load impacts by region. The actual loads of when many of thes

e policies began are compared to baseline loads without COVID-19 policy impacts. The estimated load impacts for the weeks starting on March 15 are presented in the table below.
  • Pre-reopening of the Economy. For the aggregate ISO load, the average estimated impact is a reduction in average loads of about -7.5% from March 29 through May 17, when most COVID-19 mitigation policies had been enacted. The biggest impact is estimated for the morning hours with an average reduction of -9.6%. This could reflect the fact that despite more people staying at home, there is not enough residential HVAC load in the morning hours to offset the reduction in non-residential loads. The afternoon hours have an estimated reduction of -7.2%, and the evening hours have an estimated reduction of -7.1%. The relatively lower impact in the afternoon hours could reflect a higher than usual residential air conditioning load that is offsetting the reduction in non-residential loads.
  • Phased Reopening of the Economy. The period May 18 through May 31 marks the start of the phased re-opening of the of the economy. Over this period, the reduction in average loads is estimated to be -6.2%, which shows a trend toward higher levels of power consumption. The morning impact is estimated to be -8.4%, which reflects both a re-opening of many businesses coupled with a large portion of the population continuing to be at home. The afternoon and evening impacts also show a trend toward normal usage levels with an average load reduction of -5.0% and – 5.5%, respectively. On average, it is estimated that the early phases of the re-opening of the economy have been associated with roughly a 1.3% increase in power consumption levels.

Starting around the end of April, the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) control regions experienced significant temperature increases that led to a rise in air conditioning loads. The increased temperatures have uncovered an interesting side effect of the shelter-in-place policies, specifically higher than normal weather response to hot temperatures. The CAISO and ERCOT analysis highlight the additional air conditioning load associated with people staying at home. In both regions, this has led to peak loads greater than expected. Further, the peak load days are associated with higher than expected ramp rates throughout the morning, afternoon and evening hours. If the economy re-opens with a large portion of the population remaining at home, it is plausible that this summer utilities will experience higher than normal peak loads and ramping events.

For a detailed summary of the estimated load impacts for each region, go to the forecasting website to download the latest COVID-19 Load Impact memo.

The Itron Forecasting Team will continue to post updated summary blogs and corresponding memos on the trends.

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Estimated Load Impact by ISO Control Region and Time-of-Use Period: March 15 to May 31, 2020