Texas narrowly skirted a statewide power emergency after unexpected rain brought temporary relief from record heat.
(Bloomberg) — Texas narrowly skirted a statewide power emergency after unexpected rain brought temporary relief from record heat.
Thunderstorms that erupted across the Houston metropolitan area late Thursday took the edge off of temperatures that had touched 109 F (43 C), tying a previous all-time high. The first rainfall in weeks slightly lowered the demand for power to run air conditioners in the fourth-largest US city.
Power demand failed to reach the high levels forecast by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which had warned that usage would outstrip supply as the sun set. Ercot, as the grid operator is known, urged Texans to conserve power earlier in the day, warning that there was a high probability that an emergency was imminent.
“It’s maybe a rather-be-lucky-than-good situation,” said Doug Lewin, founder of Stoic Energy Consulting in Austin. “This will go on as long as we don’t have a lot of batteries or demand-side resources.”
Unusually weak winds needed to spin turbines were the biggest factor in the tight power supplies in the Ercot territory that includes 26 million people.
“What we are seeing is conditions that are more tight than we have seen at any other day this summer,” Ercot Chief Executive Officer Pablo Vegas told utility regulators earlier Thursday.
Despite Thursday’s wet respite, Texas isn’t out of the woods yet. Triple-digit temperatures are expected for days to come, with Houston seen reaching 105 F on Sunday and Dallas at 107 F.
“I think it’s going to be tight every day but none of these days look as bad” as Thursday, said Lewin. “Monday will be a day to watch.”
–With assistance from Naureen S. Malik, Mark Chediak and Julie Fine.
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