COVID-19 has altered everything – including the way we use energy. But America’s competitive power suppliers are prepared to provide reliable, affordable and cleaner electricity even as temperatures drop.
In July, EPSA examined how summer heat waves and rising coronavirus cases would impact energy usage and reliability. According to an Acadia study, the top 13 metro areas in the U.S. could expect to see energy bill increases ranging from $2 to $37 per month as temperatures rose and electricity customers spent more time – and used more electricity – at home. Those trends reflected the central role electricity plays in daily life and highlighted the importance of a reliable, affordable power generation supply.
As the leaves fall and temperatures drop, a new season is upon us. And as winter ushers in the cozy warmth and twinkle of the holidays, it again means an increase in the amount of energy average consumers will be using to power their homes and businesses.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) recently released their Short-Term Energy Outlook, a comprehensive analysis of forecasted natural gas prices, electricity consumption, carbon emissions and more. According to the outlook, the EIA forecasts that average household bills “for all major home heating fuels, except heating oil, will increase this winter largely because of higher expected energy consumption,” with a 6% increase in natural gas and 7% in electricity expenditures, compared to last year. The EIA also predicts a colder than usual winter, based on forecasts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
With rising prices and dropping temperatures, consumers can expect to see bump in their bill. Add to that a continuation of remote work policies, and many are feeling the shift from time at work to home in their wallets.
What can be done to alleviate the burden of higher bills on consumers while ensuring a reliable grid? The solution lies in competitive power markets and the competitive generators who supply power in them – the best path forward for affordable and cleaner energy you can count on.
Power Suppliers Provide Capacity to Meet PJM Demand
While competition can help reduce power generation costs, electricity market operators and grid planners also help ensure power is available when it is most needed. PJM, the regional transmission organization (RTO) that coordinates the movement of wholesale electricity in all or parts of 13 states and the District of Columbia, says it expects to meet the demands of their 65 million customers this winter.
Planning for the future at PJM means analyzing the expected demand for electricity, assessing weather predictions and collaborating with members to develop an accurate winter operation forecast. This year, the RTO expects to have over 186,000 MW of resources available to meet the expected peak demand of around 136,000 MW.
EPSA member companies make up over 28% of all resources in the PJM footprint, with a mix of natural gas, hydropower, oil, coal, renewables and storage totaling 52,247 MW in the region.
How EPSA Members Ensure Cleaner, Cost-Effective Energy
EPSA member companies – America’s competitive power suppliers – continue to prove the power of markets and competition. Compared to a model where utilities or other providers control power generation resources, market competition helps save customers money, spurs innovation, improves the grid and can accelerate environmental progress.
To help keep electricity prices low, our members invest in state-of-the-art facilities that result in the efficient generation of electricity. For example, Competitive Power Ventures recently announced construction will soon begin on its 1,250 MW cutting-edge, efficient natural-gas-fired power plant in Illinois. The CPV Three Rivers Energy Center just south of Chicago is a highly efficient, combined-cycle natural gas generation facility that can provide reliable, environmentally responsible power for up to 1.25 million homes and businesses.
Beyond utilizing cleaner natural gas, our members are paving a path for renewable energy and battery storage to be readily integrated to the grid, with 7,000 MW of battery energy storage projects. Projects include LS Power’s and Vistra Corp.’s massive batteries in California and Tenaska’s agreement with Capital Dynamics to bring 2,000 MW of clean energy into the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) market. Renewable investments, like Calpine Corporation’s two wind projects under development in New York and TransAlta’s New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Minnesota wind farms, show competitive power suppliers are building innovative clean energy technology while providing reliable least cost power today.
COVID-19 uncertainty and chilly temperatures remind us that we need reliable, affordable electricity. Providing more than 150,000 MW of electricity generation to America’s grid, competitive power suppliers are prepared and more than capable to help us stay powered this season. And thanks to a coordinated effort by power suppliers, the North American Electricity Reliability Corporation predicts enough capacity is in place to meet winter demand and reliability needs.
We can continue to enjoy lower power generation prices by ensuring competitive power markets stay fair and transparent, allowing many companies to compete to provide reliable electricity at the lowest cost. With the glimmer of holiday lights in sight, electric competition is helping customers look forward to a merry and bright season, even if COVID-19 concerns mean celebrations are a little different this year. When power markets are allowed to work as they should, there’s really no competing with the benefits they bring to consumers, the grid and the environment.
Update: TransAlta is no longer an EPSA member as of February 9, 2021.