News, O&M

ERCOT: Load impact of COVID-19 minimal so far

map courtesy FERC.

No one can doubt the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic on economic activity and burden to the health care industry. The fiscal hit and human tolls are enormous tragedies.

One grid independent system operator’s (ISO) evaluation of the COVID-19 impact on electric load patterns, however, is that it is not too dramatic on that level so far.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which oversees transmission for most of that state, is putting out a weekly update on load pattern changes during this immediate era of the sickness which has already killed more than 11,000 Americans since February.

The ERCOT data shows little impact to daily peaks, although the morning load from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. dropped six to 10 percent lower than what the forecast model would predict typically. That margin from normality to the pandemic period is narrowing considerably when all time periods are factored in.

 “The overall load reduction for the ERCOT region has leveled off over the past two weeks,” said ERCOT Manager of Load Forecasting and Analysis Calvin Opheim in a statement. “Based on the data analyzed from the weeks of March 22 and 29, weekly energy use is down by approximately two percent.”

Any changes to the summer peak load forecast will be announced in mid-May when ERCOT releases its final summer Seasonal Assessment of Resource Adequacy and the Capacity, Demand and Reserves Report. A specific release date has not yet been set. 

On March 31, ERCOT put out its own pandemic planning actions document focused on protecting its staff and enacting best practices. ERCOT manages the flow of electricity to more than 26 million Texas customers, nearly 90 percent of the state’s load.

Other ISOs or regional transmission organizations in the U.S. include Southwest Power Pool, Midcontinent System Operator, PJM Interconnection, ISO-New England, California ISO and New York ISO.