July 19 – Power use in Texas and other Central U.S. states are expected to shatter records in coming days as homes and businesses crank up their air conditioners for relief from the heat, regional electric grid operators said on Tuesday.
Grid operators have started to ensure they have enough resources to keep up with soaring demand as temperatures climb into the triple digits across the United States and the cost of delivering electricity rises for utility companies.
The United States is expected to use record amounts of power in 2022 due primarily to rising economic demand and population growth in Sun Belt states covered by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) and the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) and in the U.S. Southeast. read more
The temperature in Oklahoma City is expected to reach 111 degrees Fahrenheit (44 degrees Celsius) on Tuesday, which would be the hottest day in a decade there. Houston is set to hit 100 F (38 C) on Wednesday and Thursday. According to federal data, both cities typically average 94 F (34 C) at this time of year.
ERCOT, which operates the grid for more than 26 million customers representing about 90% of the state’s power load, got permission from state environmental regulators to allow power plants to exceed their air permit pollution limits on Monday.
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Last week, ERCOT met the demand by urging customers to conserve energy to avoid taking much bigger actions to reduce usage, like rotating outages. read more
SPP, which operates the grid for almost 18 million people in 17 states from North Dakota to Texas, has asked its members to postpone maintenance on critical equipment like power lines and generating plants. That is a standard step grid operators take to ensure resources will be available during times of high demand.
ERCOT said power use hit a preliminary 79,039 megawatts (MW) on Monday, topping the prior all-time high of 78,419 MW on July 12, and will reach 80,318 MW on Tuesday and 81,480 MW on Wednesday. read more
One megawatt can power about 200 homes in Texas on a hot summer day. Power prices at the ERCOT North Hub, which includes Dallas, jumped to $220 per megawatt-hour (MWh) for Tuesday from $144 for Monday. That compares with an average of $74 this year, $141 in 2021, and a five-year (2017-2021) average of $56.
SPP forecast power use is expected to hit 53,760 MW on Tuesday, which would break the current all-time high of 52,028 MW on July 15. read more
The 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 a considerable amount of generation shut.