Blog: Electric Usage Patterns Change in Texas as Result of COVID-19

The grid operator began monitoring shifting usage patterns about a month ago as large numbers of Texans began working from home.

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The COVID-19 epidemic has dropped electricity consumption in Texas during the morning hours, although overall usage has declined only by about 2 percent, according to organization that oversees the state’s principal power grid.

The organization, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, announced in a release Tuesday that daily peak-usage levels remain more or less steady. Instead, it’s consumption between the hours of 6 and 10 a.m. — the hours when many Texans otherwise would be heading to work — that declined. That usage now is six to 10 percent lower than what its forecast models otherwise predict, according to ERCOT.

Under typical usage patterns, electricity consumption increases during the morning hours as Texans rise from bed, turn on lights and prepare for work and also as businesses begin operating. Another spike occurs in the late afternoon as Texans return from work and fire up their air conditioners. It’s this pattern that COVID-19 appears to be disrupting, according to the preliminary ERCOT data.

“Based on the data analyzed from the weeks of March 22 and 29, weekly energy use is down by approximately two percent,” said Calvin Opheim, the organization’s Manager of Load Forecasting and Analysis. He noted, however, that  overall load reduction has leveled off during the previous two weeks.

The grid operator began monitoring shifting usage patterns from COVID-19 about a month ago. ERCOT posted its most recent coronavirus-related update here and will post future updates on the Trending Topics page of the it website.

ERCOT also said Tuesday that it will announce any changes to its summer peak load forecast in mid-May, when it releases its final summer Seasonal Assessment of Resource Adequacy and the Capacity, Demand and Reserves Report. You can read details from its most recent SARA and CDR reports here.

ERCOT also has taken steps to help protect its staff during the pandemic outbreak. Read details here.

 

— R.A. Dyer