Powering to the finish: The ups and downs of electricity demand during a Patriots Super Bowl

What happens when the New England Patriots stage a dramatic Super Bowl comeback, erasing a 28-3 deficit and forcing overtime? Residents across the region keep their televisions on, eager to catch a glimpse of the Patriot’s latest historic victory.

During the Patriots’ fifth Super Bowl win last year, ISO New England system operators saw demand on the region’s electric grid—which had been gradually declining through the night—suddenly level off and even inch back up as the game moved into overtime. At times, demand increased by as much as 50 megawatts during overtime.

“We can definitely see the demand changes on the system, in real time, by what’s happening in the Super Bowl,” said John Norden, ISO New England’s director of operations. “Whether it’s the beginning of the game, half-time, or the end of the game, we can see changes in levels of consumer demand. Understanding what is going on in real time, from a societal level, is very important to us, and we monitor that from our control room.”

Football’s impact on the grid

An event as large as the Super Bowl syncs up the actions of the majority of people in New England, and because of this, electricity consumption spikes and dips throughout the game. Over the years, Super Bowl load curves have formed consistent patterns, showing upticks in demand that coincide with half-time, commercials, and the end of the game. These spikes are unique to the Super Bowl and happen because people likely are taking actions that increase electricity use, such as using the oven or microwave, opening up refrigerators, and water systems across the six states operating at virtually the same time—for all the obvious reasons! When the Patriots play, these spikes and dips are even more pronounced, as more casual football fans find themselves watching the game. Learn more.

As the Pats take the field Sunday in search of their sixth Super Bowl ring, ISO New England system operators will be keeping an eye on demand, making sure the region has the power it needs for kickoff, half-time, and any late game heroics.

You can follow along with these spikes and dips in real time on the ISO homepage, in ISO Express, or on our mobile app ISO to Go.

Industry News & Developments
forecast, system operations