COVID-19 Offers Lessons in How to Build a More Resilient Electricity Infrastructure

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Alberto J. Lamadrid, an associate professor of economics, conducted an analysis of electricity use in several regions of the United States over the last several months. He found confirmation of what many have suspected: Demand for electricity has decreased.

A close look at use patterns and fuel composition also reveals inflexibilities in the way electricity markets operate, which may have serious consequences. Lamadrid, who is also part of the Integrated Networks for Electricity Research Cluster, and the Power from Ocean, Rivers, and Tides (PORT) Laboratory, says a failure to make improvements to the system will negatively impact the system’s ability to adapt to future disruptions, such as climate change. It could even worsen health outcomes related to respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19.

Why? Consumption patterns impact emissions and recent research shows an association between long term exposure to particulate matter (PM2.5) and COVID-19 fatalities. Though the research is still under peer review, the data presented is alarming: The researchers found that an  increase of just 1 microgram per cubic meter of PM2.5 corresponded to a 15% increase in COVID-19 deaths

Read more in the Lehigh News Center