COVID-19 | S&P Global: Public Power Utilities Say They Have 'Weathered' COVID-19 Storm; S&P Adds, 'So Far'

July 10, 2020

Megawatt Daily

  • LPPC points to challenges in the fall
  • S&P warns of a hot summer

Public power utilities in the US have, like everyone else, faced high unemployment and the economic slowdown brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, but they have felt a “relatively small impact,” according to the chairman of the Large Public Power Council. Dan Sullivan, the chairman of the LPPC and president and CEO of Grand River Dam Authority in Oklahoma, said the main message put out during Thursday webcast hosted by the council was that the public power industry has been “resilient and has weathered the storm.”

There have been delays in some capital and O&M projects because public power utilities were reluctant to send large crews out into the pandemic, he said, “but some of this activity has been picking up.”

There could, however, be “challenges” in the autumn shoulder months when outages are typically scheduled.

Sullivan said much depends on the “dynamics of where you are and who you serve.” He said that retail and commercial customers have generally been hardest hit, while heavy industry has generally been deemed “essential.”

During the early months of the pandemic the decline in demand for power ran into the double-digits, Sullivan said. Now, he said, there is 
“minimal degradation of demand—certainly in the single digits.”

He said much depends on the “dynamics of where you are and who you serve,” and what your mix is of retail and commercial customers. The Southwest Power Pool has a 3% to 5% range of demand decline, he said. “Our utility—based in Pryor, Oklahoma is much less.”

Friday, July 10, 2020