Photo by Sean Pavone,
Sean Pavone

ISO New England Sees COVID-19 Demand Decline, Makes Changes

March 23, 2020
Though the pandemic is affecting energy usage, weather conditions remain the primary drivers of system demand.

With residents and businesses across New England changing their behavior in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, ISO New England is seeing a decline in system demand of about 3% to 5%, compared to what would normally be expected under weather conditions in the region. These percentages may change over time.

In addition to overall declines in consumer demand, these societal changes are also affecting demand patterns across the region. ISONE forecasters are seeing load patterns that resemble those of snow days, when schools are closed, and many are home during the day. These patterns include a slower than normal ramp of usage in the morning, and increased energy use in the afternoon. Though the pandemic is affecting energy usage, weather conditions remain the primary drivers of system demand.

ISONE said it will continuously monitor these ever-changing trends in load patterns and make the appropriate adjustments to calculate an accurate load forecast. The region’s power system continues to remain reliable.

The ISO has taken a number of steps to protect power system operations, including:

  • Limiting control room access only to control room staff
  • Splitting system operations shifts between our main control center and our back-up center, minimizing the potential of cross contamination between crews and allowing for more frequent control room cleaning
  • Coordinating with transmission companies, as well as other ISOs and RTOs to share best practices and situational awareness
  • Communicating with resource owners to understand any challenges to their staffing or business operations
  • Maintaining business operations
  • Having all employees who are able work from home until further notice, and providing IT support during this transition
  • Moving all stakeholder meetings to webinars or conference calls
  • Holding regular conference calls with senior leadership and business leads to share situational awareness and plans
  • Cautioning employees about potential phishing attempts related to the pandemic

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