As of March 29th, 2019, all seven electric distribution companies have promised to suspend shutoffs and bill late payments. While certainly a step in the right direction, there is no doubt that electricity usage will surge due to everyone staying at home. On the other hand, total electricity usage in the city may go down because all non-essential businesses closing, many of which use far more power than the average household. If hospitalizations see a sharp rise in the coming weeks or months, we may see electricity consumption rise to above pre pandemic levels due to the unprecedented need for beds, ventilators, and other electrical equipment.
The point is that it is difficult to gauge exactly how electricity consumption will be impacted except for the fact that individual household electricity consumption will rise to historic highs, dramatically increasing customer's electric bill. This could render the late pay suspension pointless as the increased electric consumption would add more to the end of the month bill. Outside of the already existing assistance programs, no company is offering special assistance to customers in these trying times.
We may also see a true test of the success of energy efficiency programs. To continue off my first point about the unpredictable nature of electricity consumption during this pandemic, a lot will depend on how energy efficient customer's households are. It is out of the scope of my research, but I would find it fascinating to see what electricity consumption would look like if 75% of homes were energy efficient, 0%, and whatever we have now (which is unknowable, at least to me).
This artifact describes my analysis and concerns with how the seven major electric companies are responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Andrew Rosenthal, "Analysis and Concerns", contributed by Andrew Rosenthal, The Energy Rights Project, Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography, last modified 21 July 2020, accessed 29 November 2023. https://energyrights.info/content/analysis-and-concerns