Electric Bill Madness

Residential usage spikes 20%, while commercial/industrial lags

You walk out your door, heading to work in the morning. You shut off the lights. You check to make sure unnecessary appliances are off, or in sleep mode. You turn off the television.

Until recently.

Ever since you-know-what, millions of Americans are working from home. First, it was lockdown-enforced. Then, it was quarantine-suggested. Now, although the crisis appears to be ebbing, a vast number of American citizens are still working from home by choice, out of safety concerns. This hasn’t only had an effect on their tans or their bellies…it’s made many residential electrical bills skyrocket.

The effect is two-fold. Ordinary people have to tack on extra expenses if they aren’t unordinarily diligent about keeping tabs on their appliances and lights. Secondly, utilities have to manage the influx of residential demand at the same time they compensate for an almost equal drop in commercial and industrial usage.

Overall, as stay-at-home mandates sprang up across the US since March, power companies have seen residential electrical consumption rise by 5% to 10%, while commercial and industrial usage have fallen in comparison, said Frank Monforte, director of forecasting solutions at Itron, whose forecasting business tracks power usage and provides consumption forecasting for electrical utilities in North America, Europe and Australia. Monforte detailed the research in an article written by the Boston Globe’s Hiawatha Bray.

The map at left shows a useful breakdown of both the United States and Canada’s regional ISO (Independent Service Operator) zones. This national EPRI study shows distinct changes in the residential, commercial, and industrial patterns since the beginning of March.

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