Texas power use hits monthly record during heatwave

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FILE PHOTO: Overhead power lines are seen during record-breaking temperatures in Houston, Texas

(Reuters) – Power demand in Texas hit a monthly record on Tuesday and will likely break that high on Wednesday as consumers keep their air conditioners cranked up to escape a lingering spring heatwave.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which operates the grid for most of the state, said conditions were normal early Wednesday.

At the start of the current heat, however, ERCOT was forced to ask customers to conserve energy on May 13 after several power plants shut unexpectedly, causing real-time prices to soar to over $4,000 per megawatt hour (MWh).

Extreme weather reminds Texans of the 2021 February freeze that left millions without power, water and heat for days during a deadly storm as ERCOT scrambled to prevent a grid collapse after an unusually large amount of generation was shut.

AccuWeather forecast high temperatures in Houston, the biggest city in Texas, would remain in the low to mid 90s Fahrenheit (33.9 Celsius) from Wednesday to Saturday. That compares with a normal high of 87 in the city at this time of year.

ERCOT said demand peaked at 70,804 megawatts (MW) on Tuesday and will rise to 71,505 MW on Wednesday.

Tuesday’s high broke the grid’s 70,703 MW record for the month of May set on May 9 but remained well short of the all-time high of 74,820 MW set in August 2019.

One megawatt can power around 1,000 U.S. homes on a typical day, but only about 200 homes on a hot summer day in Texas.

ERCOT forecast continued economic growth would boost peak demand to 77,317 MW this summer. To meet that demand, the grid expects to have around 91,392 MW of power resources available this summer.

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Next-day prices at the ERCOT North hub, which includes Dallas, rose to $98 per MWh for Wednesday from $79 for Tuesday.

(Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)