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Real-time AMI Data Helps Utilities Anticipate Power Needs

Real-time AMI Data Helps Utilities Anticipate Power Needs

COVID-19 has changed the way people around the world live and work. As a result of shelter in place mandates, office buildings closed, and homes quickly became makeshift offices. This shift resulted in considerable changes to both commercial and residential power consumption. With Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) data, utilities can monitor and measure how much and energy is used. Itron’s Forecasting team has been closely monitoring the load impacts of COVID-19 mitigation strategies and I recently contributed the following article to RTInsights.

COVID-19 stay-at-home mandates and the shift toward a remote-work lifestyle have led thousands of office and municipal buildings across the country to remain closed for the majority of 2020. While some businesses started to reopen late-summer 2020, spikes in cases in November and December once again prompted stricter community restrictions and business closures. Real-time data from Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) can help.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to significant fluctuations in commercial power consumption. Although the end is finally in sight, the impact of COVID-19 will affect the way we live and work moving forward. With more citizens staying at home, potentially long-term, it is more important than ever for utility providers to adjust operations to meet an offsetting increase in residential power demand.

How does the shift toward a remote workforce affect power consumption and demand?

During a typical workday before the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses and homes begin to turn the lights on and consume power around 5 a.m. With stay-in-place policies, more people started working from home, eliminating their daily commute, with some using that time to start their morning routines later. This causes the aggregate system load of utilities to begin ramping up later in the morning. Not only does this result in utility providers having to adjust power supply operations to meet a shift in demand, but it can also lead to a shift in consumers’ peak load hours.

Peak load hours are the points in the day at which a city and its residents are consuming the most electrical power. According to energy usage data prior to broad stay-at-home policies and COVID-19, peak load hours tended to be late afternoon when the combination of residential and non-residential air conditioning loads were running at maximum power to cool down homes and workplaces. As a result of the pandemic, commercial buildings that are largely unoccupied have lower air conditioning loads, leading to a shift in peak load hours to earlier in the day as residential homes cool throughout the day.

As utility providers produce more power during these peak load hours, there is typically a higher billing rate associated with power consumption during these peak hours. This could result in higher than expected end-of-month energy bills for consumers working from home.

Read the full article to learn how utility providers monitor power consumption and can leverage post-COVID-19 AMI data moving forward.