PJM Interconnection, serving 65 million customers in 13 states and the District of Columbia as the largest U.S. electric grid operator, is prepared for peak demand this summer, which it estimated at 148,000 MW, and the New York grid operator also sees adequate generation for the hot months ahead.


With more than 187,000 MW of installed generating capacity available, coupled with sufficient resources in reserve to cover unexpected changes in demand, PJM’s assessment reflects a relatively conservative high peak-demand, though it does not account for the decrease in demand as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The summer is normally when electricity use is at its highest, and along with our members, we prepare for summer operations throughout the year,” said CEO Manu Asthana. “Although the coronavirus pandemic has brought new dynamics for us to consider in our forecasting and operational preparedness, we’re confident that we will be able to meet customer needs.”

So far, pandemic-related restrictions since mid-March have accounted for a summer peak demand decrease of about 10% in the PJM grid from closures by commercial, industrial and institutional power users. Though there is increased electricity use by residential customers working from home, the commercial and industrial-related closures have more than offset the increase in residential demand.

Since April, PJM has taken action to protect its employees while maintaining reliability, officials said, which includes implementing a third system control room to provide operational flexibility. PJM’s operational team has also been analyzing resource output changes, and is prepared for electricity pattern alterations as pandemic-related government restrictions are relaxed or lifted.

Last year, PJM peak demand hit on July 19 at 151,000 MW. The grid operator’s all-time, single-day highest power demand occurred in the summer of 2006 at more than 165,000 MW.

Meanwhile, the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) said it also expects electricity supplies in the state to be adequate for summer demand. With 41,319 MW of power resources available, the grid operator said it was prepared to meet the forecast peak demand of 32,296 MW.

The summer demand forecast reflects an 86 MW decrease from the 2019 baseline, but it is still 1.3% higher than the 10-year average peak of 31,867 MW, the New York grid operator noted. This year, NYISO’s extreme weather scenario analysis reflected a 1,914 MW increase in peak demand, at about 34,210 MW.

“The state’s grid is well-equipped to handle forecasted summer demand,” said NYISO’s Wes Yeomans, vice president of Operations. “The NYISO operates the grid to meet reliability rules that are among the strictest in the nation and are designed to ensure adequate supply.”

Meanwhile, even though Covid-19 has impacted overall electricity usage, NYISO indicated the pandemic has not materially impacted summer peak load projections. The coronavirus has resulted in an 8-10% decrease in overall electricity usage, but NYISO is projecting a gradual increase in load as commercial and industrial activity resumes.

Additionally, NYISO operates under certain reliability standards, which include an installed reserve margin in the event of the loss of the grid’s largest single resource. This year, the operating reserve is 2,620 MW. Including the peak demand forecast, NYISO has a total capacity requirement of 34,916 MW.

Available resources for the total capacity of power include 38,475 MW of generating capacity from power plants, and 1,562 MW of net purchases from neighboring regions capable of supplying energy to New York. Additionally, 1,282 MW of demand response resources are available in the event large electricity users and groups of smaller power customers are engaged by the NYISO to reduce electricity consumption.

New York’s record peak load occurred following a week-long heat wave in July 2013, recorded at 33,956 MW. Last summer, peak demand was recorded on July 20 at 30,391 MW.