With many staying home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, energy use in California is changing. Last Tuesday, the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) released a report showing reductions in energy demand and energy prices following stay at home orders from some California counties in mid-March and the March 20 statewide stay at home order. California saw more significant reductions in weekday energy use compared to weekend energy use.
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At least 316 million people in the United States (or 96% of the country) have been directed to stay home to halt the spread of COVID-19. Those who are not essential workers are likely using up more electricity at home than they normally would, so you might imagine that the energy sector could be one of the few industries to come out of this pandemic relatively unscathed.
That may be true for regulated electric utilities and the large scale projects that contract with them. But it hasn’t held true for the energy sector’s largest employer, the energy efficiency sector, which has seen major layoffs since the start of the pandemic. And the pandemic’s impacts could be even more severe for smaller programs diversifying the energy efficiency workforce through job training programs for youth, low-income communities, and people of color.