While Californians are trying to digest a barrage of coronavirus-fighting steps from shelter-in-place to a health care build-out that could involve up to 19,000 new hospital beds, the energy systems fueling the nation’s most populous state haven’t blinked.
Uncertainty still surrounds almost every move at every level of government, and the pace of life has screamed to a halt in most areas of the state, but the demands and operation of multi-billion-dollar natural gas, electric, water and public transportation systems are not feeling any impact, according to a survey Wednesday by NGI.
The California Energy Commision (CEC) said essential service fuel providers would remain open during the Covid-19 response.
“All elements of the fuel supply chain remain open,” said CEC spokesperson Sandy Louey, including refineries, pipeline operators, distribution terminals, tanker trucks, fuel wholesalers, electric vehicle chargers, natural gas vehicle fueling and hydrogen fueling.
“And according to state experts, fuel supply availability is ample, and there should be no disruptions to the fuel supply,” Louey said.
Another CEC spokesperson, Michael Ward, said the state agency is monitoring California’s natural gas market for impacts affecting reliability, and demand most recently was stable for both Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E) and Southern California Gas Co.
“Gas demand for both utilities dropped on Monday and Tuesday due to the closures and/or scaling back of businesses and schools across the state due to the virus emergency measures,” he said.
At PG&E, spokesperson Denny Boyles said the San Francisco-based combination utility has about a dozen programs aimed at the virus response, including eliminating planned outages for repairs in counties and cities implementing shelter-in-place. PG&E, like other utilities in the country, has suspended planned construction/maintenance work.
PG&E “continues to perform important safety work to keep the gas system safe and reliable,” Boyles added. To make critical repairs, PG&E has access to mobile liquefied natural gas and compressed natural gas to avoid having to shut off service to an area.
Meanwhile, California Independent System Operator spokesperson Anne Gonzales said it is too early to identify any impact on the grid as load characteristics likely will change as more people work from home.
“We don’t have enough information to see a trend, and we can’t assign the changes to people sheltering in place or the weather dynamics,” Gonzales said. “We are aware that consumer behavior may have an effect on load characteristics, and we have been monitoring that.”