COVID-19 changes our power use patterns

Mike Zaccardi, CFA, CMT

COVID-19 brought about interesting changes in the power demand patterns of Americans. Typically during the work week, there is a spike in power demand when folks wake-up, turn on the lights and begin their morning routines. Then demand eases somewhat in the late morning when the workday is underway. A second demand incline happens around 6-7pm when dinner is being made and ACs turn on in the evening. With the work-from-home movement taking hold, this has changed.

Utilities are seeing a ‘flatter’ demand curve with a more gradual morning peak and softer load in the evening. In net, demand is nearly unchanged on the residential side as our laptops and desktops at home work on overtime and offices are left empty. Industrial & commercial loads are off substantially. But we are probably about at the peak of load changes from lockdown orders across the nation. Some states have announced re-opening plans. So we should see a gradual normalization in the power demand curve. The power demand curve pictured is from the PJM market website.