The impact of social distancing measures and economic activity is difficult to accurately predict; however, ISO New England has already reported a 3% to 5% reduction in consumer electricity demand during the COVID-19 pandemic. The grid operator expects the pandemic to continue to affect the way consumers use energy throughout the summer.
Generation capacity is the amount of electricity a generator can produce. This maximum amount of power is measured in megawatts and helps utilities project how big of an electricity load a generator can handle. Not having enough capacity to meet demand causes brownouts and blackouts in the region.
Electricity demand in New England is highest in the summer when residents and businesses turn to air conditioning to beat the heat and humidity. This summer electricity demand is estimated to reach a peak of 25,125 megawatts, according to ISO New England under typical conditions.
Uncontrollable events like severe weather cause demand to increase. ISO New England has confirmed they will be able to account for and respond to this uncertainty this summer. In the event of extreme temperature changes, such as multiple day heatwaves,
the peak may reach up to 27,084 MW.
New England has more than 33,000 MW of capacity available, which is more than enough to meet the predicted peak, last summer’s peak demand of 24,004 MW, and New England’s record for peak demand that reached 28,130 MW in August 2006.