The CAISO (California Independent System Operator) that manages and operates the electricity grid, bulk electric power system and transmission lines in California, has reported that It has been cutting down renewable energy at record levels in 2020, as the share of solar power usage during daylight hours in the country significantly beats electricity demand. Currently, the grid operator is also contending with falling power demand due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Counties across San Francisco Bay Area issued a stay-at home order and mandated to halt all nonessential work on 17 March 2020. Gavin Newsom, the Governor of California further extended the order statewide 2 days later.
In the preceding weeks, CAISO recorded a significant plunge in energy demand from shuttered businesses located in the Bay Area, which were served by Pacific Gas & Electric and the utility Southern California Edison.
After the shelter-in place orders, CAISO has been witnessing load reductions from 5%-8% on weekdays, and from 1%-4% on weekends, and the largest drops are seen in the morning peak hours as compared to the same time last year. A larger shift from commercial, retail hubs and restaurants to residential consumption is witnessed due to drop in commercial loads while increase in residential loads from people staying at home.
NYISO, the New York grid operator, reported that the load drops are larger than the average 4%-5% declines in the last week. However, the drop is much higher in New York City, which is the epicenter of the state’s corona outbreak. ISO New England also reported 3%-5% declines in electricity demand in the previous week.
For the record, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, CAISO’s renewables curtailments were already spiking every year, driven by growth in solar power output to meet California’s aggressive clean energy goals.