California’s Power Usage Continues to Sag During COVID-19 Pandemic

Published On: May 8, 2020

According to a recent presentation by the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), weekday morning peak power demand is down 7% versus 6.5% for the evening peak. Overall, weekday demand is down 4.5% versus little change for the weekends. This pattern appears to be staying consistent throughout the pandemic.

While businesses are feeling the impact of the stay-at-home order, the extent of the effect depends upon the type of business. According to Innowatts – a provider of AI-enabled analytics and solutions for utilities – car dealerships, dry cleaning, and restaurants (excluding pizza) are down 50% or more in nationwide power usage. By comparison, liquor stores’ power usage is up 19%, pizza is up 20%, and storage units are up 23%. Comfort food, alcohol, and the need to store college and business items are driving up power demand.

CAISO also stated that hydropower is down significantly, and natural gas is up compared to last year, as reported previously in the weekly report. CAISO also mentioned that power curtailments are nearly double what they were last year. Most of the curtailments (85%) are due to congestion management due to grid constraints.

As the weather gets warmer and governments slowly roll back the stay-at-home orders, the challenges CAISO faces in scheduling will continue.

About the Author: Matt Ross

Matt Ross is a Senior Consultant in the energy industry and has more than a dozen years of experience in state government. He can be reached at matt at