According to both the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA), power to meet the nation’s summer demand is expected to be sufficient.
According to NERC’s report, projected resources are at or above the levels needed to satisfy summer peak demand under anticipated weather in nearly all assessment areas.
“However, the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic has led to heightened uncertainty in demand projections, has disrupted preparation (i.e., preventive maintenance, supply stocking and training) for the summer peak operating season, and threatens the health and safety of critical industry workforce,” said the report.
“Industry appears well-positioned for the coming summer season,” said John Moura, director of reliability assessment and performance analysis at NERC. “As pandemic-related restrictions continue through the summer, we may see electricity peak demand lower than forecast, which would help offset potential challenges with unexpected generation outages or extreme weather impacts.”
The NERC report also noted that electricity and other critical infrastructure sectors face elevated cyber security risks arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to ongoing risks.
EIA’s assessment is generally the same—more than enough power availability for the summer, not only because COVID-19 is reducing commercial and industrial demand (shifting it to residential demand, which, by definition, is lower than commercial and industrial demand) as more employees are working at home, but also because of weather predictions.
“The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasts that U.S. cooling degree days—an indicator of demand for air conditioning—for June, July, and August 2020 will be 1% lower than last summer,” said the EIA report.
Interestingly, according to the EIA report, while the demand for coal generation will be lower as a result of the pandemic and weather projections (with coal generation falling from 24% of generation totals in the summer of 2019 to 17% this summer), generation of renewables is expected to increase, with wind growing 7% this summer and utility-scale solar growing 3%.