Episode 197: Why do electric providers predict electricity demand?

Have you ever wondered why electric providers predict electricity demand? On this week’s Energy Bite, Richard Huntsinger, a recent PhD graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, has some answers.

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HOST: Have you ever wondered why electric providers predict electricity demand? On this week’s Energy Bite, Richard Huntsinger, a recent PhD graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, has some answers.

HUNTSINGER: Electric providers forecast electricity demand to guide them on how much electricity they need to distribute. If they plan for too much electricity, it will be wasted. That’s expensive – and bad for the environment. Unlike with other forms of energy, electricity can’t be used later; it must be used precisely when it’s produced or it’s gone. If companies plan for too little electricity, this means they have to obtain extra electricity from somewhere else on short notice, and that’s expensive, too. If companies predict for way too little electricity, there just won’t be enough even from somewhere else, and that means a blackout, a short- or long-term loss of electric power, can occur.

HOST: What are the latest advances in forecasting electricity demand?

HUNTSINGER: Forecasters of electricity demand are starting to use “big data” techniques, the ones already being used to make self-driving cars, predict consumer buying trends, and search for cyber threats. Big data techniques, of course, require a lot of data to work well, and fortunately, there is a lot of data starting to come from new smart grid implementations that can be used for this purpose.

 HOST: Do you think utilities do a good job of forecasting your electricity demand? Take our poll, see the results, and ask your energy questions at Energy Bite dot org.

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