Episode 198: How is demand for electricity forecasted?

How do electricity providers forecast 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: How do electricity providers forecast electricity demand? On this week’s Energy Bite, Richard Huntsinger, a recent PhD graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, has some answers.

HUNTSINGER: Electric providers use computer models to forecast electricity demand at different horizons – the short-term horizon, say a day to a week ahead, the medium-term horizon—a month to a year ahead, and the long-term horizon—a year to many years ahead.  The different models are used for different purposes and forecasters rely on different information to make their predictions.  All the models have some elements in common, but generally, utilities must create their own unique models specific their own consumers’ particular electricity usage behavior, because situations differ across locations.

HOST: How are these different kinds of forecasts used and what information do forecasters rely on?

HUNTSINGER: Electric providers forecast demand for shorter horizons to decide how much electricity to produce or contract for, which must be committed to in advance of when it will actually be used. Forecasters rely on information about historical electricity usage, temperature, when holidays will occur, and other factors that are known to influence electricity demand. Forecasters predict demand for longer horizons to decide how much to invest in new sources of electricity. They rely on information about population growth, the economy, and other factors.

 HOST: Would you support electric providers investing more in new sources of electricity? Take our poll, see the results, and ask your energy questions at Energy Bite dot org.

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