First Virtual Utility Roundtable Assesses Initial Load Shape Impacts from COVID-19

Back to News & Articles

Our regional power system is operating in uncharted territory, in real time, due to the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis. On Thursday April 16, GridForward hosted a Virtual Roundtable of local and national leaders to see first-hand data on load shape impacts. The group received information and observations from representatives of BPA, Cascade Energy, Clark PUD, DNV GL, EPRI, Guidehouse/Navigant, HECO, Holy Cross Energy, La Plata Electric Association, Seattle City Light, Tacoma Public Utilities and others.

This group shared early assessments of data that shows broad and unpredictable shifts in electricity use across all sectors, both here in our region and around the globe, as people sequester in homes while schools, businesses and industries come to a swift and unprecedented halt.

Here are some key takeaways from the discussion:

  • In global hot spots such as China and Italy, daily energy use has fallen temporarily by as much as 40%. In New York City, with its dense commercial and office buildings, demand is down by as much as 25%. What will the situation look like when the peak passes and restrictions are eased? In Guandong province, China, use has bounced back and is now down by just 5%.
  • Most regions are seeing elevated mid-day residential load, particularly non-HVAC use, which is offsetting growing decreases in commercial demand as more businesses and offices close. There is some concern about what this may mean as we pass through the shoulder season and into summer.
  • Across the Pacific NW and mountain states, the drop in demand is not as severe, in part because of wider use of residential electric heating. BPA research is showing modest changes in load shape: morning peaks are lower and later, use is higher during the day, and higher evening peaks. At the same time, certain utilities are having to make rapid adjustments when key customers such as ski areas have shut down suddenly.
  • EPRI is closely monitoring the increase in curtailment of renewables, as solar and wind.  If you are interested in access to its briefings, send an email inquiry to

Source: Guidehouse/Navigant, April 2020

Grid Forward members are receiving a more detailed report of the discussion during the Virtual Roundtable. If you are not a member, you may request the report by contacting

The Grid Forward Virtual Utility Roundtable Series uses an invitation-only, small-group format to encourage information sharing and frank discussion. We were pleased to have a strong response for the first one, and had to virtually squeeze in a few more seats. Our next Roundtable is planned for April 30th as we continue to assess COVID-19-related impacts on areas of operation including demand, dispatch order, DERs, reliability, wholesale processes and capital spending.

If you have an interest in reserving a seat for the next Virtual Utility Roundtable, please contact

Related Posts