Texas power demand hits monthly record in heatwave

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Overhead power lines are seen during record-breaking temperatures in Houston, Texas, U.S., February 17, 2021. REUTERS/Adrees Latif/File Photo

(Reuters) – The Texas power grid said Tuesday that it has sufficient resources to meet demand this week as consumers crank up their air conditioners to escape unseasonably hot weather after usage soared to a monthly record on Monday.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which operates the grid for most of the state, said demand rose to 70,703 megawatts (MW) on Monday, breaking the prior monthly record of 67,271 MW set in May 2018.

That is surprising since temperatures in Houston, the biggest city in Texas, hit just 88 degrees Fahrenheit (31.1 Celsius) on Monday, only a few degrees over the city’s normal high of 85 F for this time of year, according to AccuWeather.

It was, however, much hotter elsewhere in the state, including San Antonio, the state’s second biggest city, where the mercury reached 101 F on Monday. The normal high in San Antonio is about 86 F at this time of year.

Extreme weather reminds Texans of the February freeze in 2021 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.

Looking ahead, ERCOT forecast demand would reach 70,758 MW on May 16, topping Monday’s high but remaining well below the grid’s all-time peak of 74,820 MW 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.

AccuWeather forecast high temperatures in Houston would reach the low to mid 90s every day from May 10-24.

Despite high demand, next-day prices at the ERCOT North hub, which includes Dallas, fell to $75 per megawatt hour for Tuesday from $88 for Monday and a six-month high of $164 for Friday.

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