The New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) on April 16 said weekday morning reductions in power consumption have averaged as much as 18% below typical levels, with the most dramatic drops noted in New York City as businesses remain closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

NYISO, in an updated analysis of estimated coronavirus demand impacts released Thursday, said demand for electricity is down across the New York Control Area (NYCA). NYISO, the corporation responsible for operating the state’s bulk electricity grid, said drops in power consumption vary by area, with NYCA-wide drops compared to typical levels ranging from about 1% around midnight, to just below 12% at the 7 a.m. hour.

The state of New York is served by several utilities, including New York State Electric & Gas Corp., PSEG Long Island, and Consolidated Edison, which supplies power for New York City.

NYISO, one of the nation’s nine regional transmission organizations (RTOs) that operate the power grid, was among the first power sector companies to house critical staff on-site. The RTO in late March established housing for some of its staff at its control centers near Albany.

“Electricity demand across New York State is clearly impacted by COVID-19 related closures,” said Rich Dewey, president and CEO of the NYISO. “Even when normalizing electric consumption data for weather, we have seen daily energy use down by nearly 9% during the second week of April.”

Similar Trend in Other Parts of the Country

Other RTOs also are reporting drops in power demand and consumption due to the pandemic. The California Independent System Operator (CAISO), which operates the grid in that state, has reported weather-adjusted load reductions as high as 8% on weekdays. California instituted a statewide lockdown due to the coronavirus on March 19. Grid operators in other parts of the country also have reported drops in demand compared to typical averages during March and April.

A recent report from Wood Mackenzie said the COVID-19 pandemic could disrupt U.S. power markets for as long as 18 months, with negative economic impacts occurring into 2023 in what the report called a “severe scenario,” with commercial, industrial, and transportation electricity demand all curtailed. The U.S. Energy Information Administration in its most-recent Short-Term Energy Outlook report, published April 7, said it expects significant impacts to U.S. electricity consumption due to the pandemic. A recent report from Enverus, an energy and data analytics company, also looked at the demand destruction due to the coronavirus.

Large Drops in New York City

NYISO conducts comprehensive long-term planning for the state’s electric power system. The agency said hourly demand in New York City for the week of April 6–10 ranged from about 2% to 18% below typical levels, with the largest demand drop noted at about 8 a.m. on weekdays, a time when many businesses in the city would be opening for the day.

The agency last week said daily energy use across New York was off by almost 8% during the last two weeks of March and first week of April, even with adjustments for weather. NYISO has noted a steady downward trend in power demand and consumption since early March, when lockdown orders were issued for the state and New York City, requiring non-essential businesses to close and keeping workers away from their offices. Consumption when compared to the typical average for this time of year was down about 4% in the first week of March, with week-over-week drops noted since.

NYISO in Thursday’s news release said the agency also has observed the morning peak arriving later in the day, and said the pattern “is similar to what we would observe during a widespread snow day. NYISO forecasters noted the reduction in electric demand from commercial customers is driving the reduction, while also observing an increase in residential energy use, especially during the midday.” The agency said its Operations and Demand Forecasting teams continue to monitor and assess changes in electricity demand and consumption patterns as it refines daily and longer-term demand forecasts, which includes engagement with local utilities and updating economic forecasts.

Darrell Proctor is associate editor for POWER (@DarrellProctor1, @POWERmagazine).