Changes in Electricity Load Profiles Under COVID-19: Implications of “The New Normal” for Electricity Demand

Shelter-in-place orders and school and business closures related to COVID-19 have changed the hourly profile of electricity loads in the U.S. Such shifts have significant implications for utilities and grid operators, affecting operational efficiency as well as investment decisions. It is critical to understand if and how these changes may persist as economies gradually reopen. Using 2 years of observed electricity consumption data from more than 3.8 million residential and non-residential customers from the Commonwealth Edison utility in Illinois, we show that the onset of COVID-19 shifted weekday residential load profiles to closely resemble weekend profiles from previous years. We use this finding to estimate the potential impact of continued COVID-19-type profiles of electricity use on total load profiles. We find that long-term structural changes to the workplace like widespread teleworking could lead to 5-7% higher spring and summertime peak hourly loads occurring up to 2.5 hours earlier.
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