COVID-19 vs ASEAN Energy Sector: Electricity
Monday, 11 May 2020




Nadhilah Shani and Muhammad Rizki Kresnawan

Key Points

  • The worsened condition of the fast-spreading Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) has urged ASEAN countries to take measures in limiting people’s mobility. The reduced daily electricity demand observed to happen in all ASEAN countries which apply the policy to force the citizen to stay home, due to closing down of industries and business during quarantine times. It is still unsure how these reduced demands will impact the utilities in terms of earning and technical adjustment of shutting off the power plant to respond to the lower demand. It will depend on how long these quarantines will continue to occur and how fast the demand will bounce back as the economy starts again.
  • Falling electricity demand is a dire impact of COVID-19 as the quarantine practice, which urges power utilities to cope. Left hanging between temporary technical adjustment and necessity to revise the power development plan once things are back to normal, the pandemic ripples uncertainty to the whole power system. Further down the line on the government side, emergency policies are needed to balance these two: keep the impacted citizens to afford electricity and supporting power utilities to survive the declining revenue.
  • The halted and postponed power projects expected to shift a bit the focus of some national power master plan once the situation is back to normal. Some power development plan may be adjust-ed, and priorities reoriented in order to incorporate the coping mechanism of the power system with the new force major scenario of a drastic drop of demand due to large-scale quarantine.
  • Apart from cutting the bills, the ASEAN Government also provides other types of stimulus by extending the payment period. However, we wonder how this temporary policy fall into the more significant national subsidy scheme once the pandemic ends. Will the energy subsidy scheme be evaluated and shifted to the most sector that needs to recover the most such as health care and economy?

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