The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which manages about 90 percent of the state’s electricity grid, says weekly use of electricity has declined 2 percent during the COVID-19 crisis, according to a press release issued Tuesday.
ERCOT reported the lower usage during an announcement that it would provide weekly updates of the state’s electricity usage. The organization began monitoring during the week of March 8. It says there has been little impact to daily peak electricity usage.
“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. “Based on the data analyzed from the weeks of March 22 and 29, weekly energy use is down by approximately two percent.”
Morning usage between 6 and 10 a.m. has fallen even more – down 6 to 10 percent from forecast models.
What’s ahead for Texans?
ERCOT will announce any changes in the 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.
Last month, ERCOT predicted record electric use this summer and said grid conditions would be similar to summer 2019, when it declared an energy emergency that drove prices up sharply from late summer through the rest of the year.
“ERCOT has added new electric supply resources, and strong economic growth continues to push up demand in ERCOT,” said ERCOT President and CEO Bill Magness. “We expect grid operations to be very similar to last summer.”
Declaring an energy emergency allows the grid operator to take advantage of additional resources that are only available under these types of conditions. Additionally, the ERCOT wholesale market is designed to send appropriate price signals to encourage generators to be available when needed, and for customers to lower their energy use.
Total resource capacity for the upcoming summer season is expected to be 82,417 MW. The preliminary summer report includes a 76,696 MW summer peak load forecast based on normal summer conditions from 2004 to 2018.