Power demand breaks record in Texas again during heat wave

(Reuters) – Power demand in Texas hit a record high for a second straight day on Tuesday as homes and businesses cranked up air conditioners to escape a brutal heat wave.

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, has said it has enough resources available to meet soaring demand.

Texas residents have worried about extreme weather since a deadly winter storm in February 2021 left millions without power, water and heat for days as ERCOT struggled to prevent a grid collapse after the closure of an unusually large amount of generation.

After setting 11 demand records last summer, ERCOT said usage hit a preliminary 82,592 megawatts (MW) at 1800 Central Time (2300 GMT), which would top the grid’s previous all-time high of 81,911 MW set on July 17.

That is the fifth record high in ERCOT this summer.

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.

Meteorologists at AccuWeather forecast high temperatures in Houston, the biggest city in Texas, would hit at least 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 Celsius) every day from July 17-21. That compares with a normal high of 94 F for this time of year.

    Next-day or spot power prices at the ERCOT North Hub, which includes Dallas, fell to $45 per megawatt hour (MWh) on Tuesday from a nearly seven-month high of $475 on Friday. That compares with an average of $38 so far this year, $78 in 2022 and a five-year average of $66.

Rising economic and population growth has boosted electricity use in Sun Belt states like Texas and Arizona even though overall U.S. power demand is projected to ease in 2023 after hitting a record high in 2022.

(This story has been refiled to correct the GMT time in paragraph 4)

(Reporting by Scott DiSavino and Ashitha Shivaprasad; Editing by Leslie Adler, Sonali Paul and Chris Reese)