Association Webinars: The Impacts of COVID19 on the Power Sector


Efforts to mitigate the health impacts of the coronavirus (COVID19) pandemic has already had a large impact on the United States Power Sector. Not only have they impacted overall electricity use and demand patterns, but it has also had implications for utility operations as they work to keep the lights on during this public health emergency. Data show that electricity use in the United States has fallen almost 8% compared to recent weekly averages. In New York City, demand has fallen by 14% as office, theaters, and restaurants close their doors. According to some researchers, these declines in electricity use signal a decline in U.S. economic activity on par with the Great Depression.

This webinar explores the impacts of COVID19 on electricity use in the United States to date and discuss the short term implications for the power sector. What will utilities need to do to ensure continued reliability in the power system, particularly as we move closer to hurricane season? It will also explore the longer term impacts of this decline in demand on power sector investments including renewables deployment and efforts to decarbonize the electricity system. Will this help or hinder efforts toward reducing emissions in the long-term? Is this an opportunity or a risk for investment in critical infrastructure?


Dr. Melissa Lott is a Senior Research Scholar and Lead of the Power Sector Research Initiative at the Center on Global Energy Policy. She has worked as an engineer and advisor for more than 15 years in the United States, Europe, and Asia. While her work has spanned the entire energy system, Dr. Lott is internationally recognized for her work in the electricity and transportation sectors. For her research and contributions to global energy sector dialogues, Dr. Lott has been featured as a Solar 100 Thought Leader, an IEEE Women in Power, and a Forbes 30 under 30 in Energy.


Dr. Joshua D. Rhodes, PhD is a Researcher in the Webber Energy Group at The University of Texas at Austin and a Founding partner of IdeaSmiths LLC. He also serves as a Data Advisory Board Member of the Pecan Street Project in Austin, Texas. His work focuses on the smart grid and bulk electricity system, including spatial system-level applications and impacts of energy efficiency, resource planning, distributed generation, and storage. He is also interested in the impacts that good policy can have on the efficiency of the micro and macro economy. Dr. Rhodes is a regular contributor to Forbes and is an AXIOS Expert Voice. He holds a double bachelors in Mathematics and Economics from Stephen F. Austin State University, a masters in Computational Mathematics from Texas A&M University, a masters in Architectural Engineering from The University of Texas at Austin and a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from The University of Texas at Austin. He enjoys mountain biking, rock climbing, and a good cup of coffee.

Dr Elta Kolo is a Content Lead for the Grid Edge team at Wood Mackenzie working on utility digitization and flexibility in U.S. electricity markets. Prior to joining Wood Mackenzie, Elta pursued a joint Ph.D. funded by the European Commission on Sustainable Energy Technologies and Strategies at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. During her doctoral studies, she researched demand response policies for the implementation of smart grids and has presented her work at both U.S. and European conferences, in addition to publishing in international scholarly journals. Elta holds a Master of Science degree in economics and management of network industries from ICAI School of Engineering (Spain) and a bachelor's degree in economics from Union College (New York).

Edward Fortunato is the Chief Economist for Exelon. Over the last seventeen years at Exelon, Edward has managed the proprietary trading book, the short-term analytics group, and has led the implementation of trading strategies in both the proprietary and hedging books and run the fundamental analysis group. As the chief economist he tracks economic trends and how they affect our company. Prior to working at Exelon, Edward served as the vice president of natural gas trading at Merrill Lynch Global Commodities, and as a senior energy trader at Edison Mission Energy. Edward has an MBA with high honors in finance from Boston University and a BBA from Baruch College. He is an active community member, involved with Our Daily Bread since first arriving in Baltimore. He is on Partners in Excellence and Marian House board and is the chair of the Loyola University Maryland's data science board. Ed lives In Ellicott City Maryland with his wife and dog.


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