Load is the amount of electricity on the grid at any given time, as it makes its journey from the power source to all the homes, businesses and industries within a utility’s territory.
Because electricity is something that can’t be stored and used later, it needs to be used once it is generated and live on the system or else it will go to waste. One way that utilities control product costs for their customers is to manage and adjust how much load is on the grid at any given time. They monitor both demand and load around the clock to make sure it’s the right amount to meet the real-time needs of the customer.
Electricity load fluctuates to meet demand
To understand just how demand and load can fluctuate, think about how your family uses electricity at home. You use less power when you’re asleep or away at work or school. And you use more when you’re awake and doing things around the house. If you were to chart this usage hour by hour, you could almost tell the time of day and the season of year by it.
The same thing occurs throughout the entire system. Then, as you consider the considerable needs of businesses and industry, with their machinery and large spaces that need heating and cooling, the impact on load is even greater.
How is electricity load kept in balance?
There are times when demand is at its height and the energy sources, both power plants and supplemental sources, are working at full capacity. Still, utilities often deploy solutions to make sure customers’ needs are met, while at the same time avoiding power outages.
One example of this is load shedding. That’s when customers are asked to find ways to lower their energy usage. At home, for example, you might accomplish this by using appliances such as your washer and dryer at night when everyone else is using less electricity. This is voluntary, and some companies offer incentives to their customers to do so.
The goal is to keep the grid in balance, so your utility can keep it going while also managing costs and resources.