Texas avoids blackouts, power use to break more records in heat wave

·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: Hot weather bakes north Texas

(Reuters) - Power demand in Texas will likely hit new record highs this week as consumers crank up air conditioners to escape a lingering heat wave after homes and businesses helped avoid rotating blackouts by conserving energy on Monday.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which operates the grid for more than 26 million customers representing about 90% of the state's power load, warned over the weekend that it may have to take emergency measures on Monday, including rotating blackouts, to maintain reliability.

But conservation efforts reduced energy use enough to enable available resources to meet Monday's record demand.

Extreme weather is a reminder of the February freeze in 2021 that left millions of Texans 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 shut.

AccuWeather said temperatures in Houston, the biggest city in Texas, will rise from 99 Fahrenheit (37.2 Celsius) on Tuesday to 100 F on Wednesday. That compares with a normal high of 94 F for this time of year.

ERCOT forecast power use hit a preliminary 78,264 megawatts (MW) on Monday, topping the prior record of 78,204 MW on July 8, and will reach 79,226 MW on Tuesday and 79,392 MW on Wednesday.

Unlike Monday, however, ERCOT has not yet urged consumers to conserve energy on Tuesday and Wednesday.

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.

Power prices at the ERCOT North Hub, which includes Dallas, slid to $130 per megawatt hour (MWh) for Tuesday from $158 for Monday. That compares with an average of $68 so far this year, $141 in 2021 and a five-year (2017-2021) average of $56.

(Reporting by Scott DiSavino; editing by David Evans)

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