In some states, initial data suggests an almost immediate leveling off, where the variation from week to week is small. However, for many states, it remains to be seen where and when that leveling off will occur, particularly as summer takes hold and we all switch on our air conditioners to keep us cool during hot days at home.
For a system designed to meet peak loads, the assumed reduction in demand may not seem like a problem. However, for a veteran industry that was already coping with massive change, this rapid disruption and lingering uncertainty does raise some important questions, such as:
- Will these trends persist, creating a new normal, for system planners to predict and plan for? For example, the recovery in electric demand from the 2008 recession took almost six months, and even then demand was 2 percent lower than normal conditions.
- How will changes in supply and demand affect grid operations and bulk power markets, particularly if the shutdowns continue into the peak load summer season?
- In the cost of service world of ratemaking, does shifting load require a revisiting of rate structures?
- Faced with declining utility revenues at a time of broader economic challenges, how do we ensure continued investment in the system while protecting customers?