Texas power demand to hit record highs again as heat bakes state

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(Reuters) – Texas’ power grid operator projected electricity use would break records again this week as homes and business crank up their air conditioners to cope with another brutal summer heatwave.

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 storm in February 2021 left millions without power, water and heat for days as ERCOT scrambled to prevent a grid collapse after the closure of an unusually large amount of generation.

After setting 11 peak demand records last summer, ERCOT forecast usage would break the current all-time high of 80,828 megawatts (MW) on June 27 four times over the next two weeks – hitting 82,362 MW on Tuesday, 82,732 MW on Thursday, 83,843 MW on July 17 and 84,135 MW on July 18.

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 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 Celsius) on Tuesday and July 15-17. That compares with a normal high of 94 F for this time of year.

While day-ahead power prices for Tuesday remained below $100 per megawatt hour (MWh), real-time prices topped $3,400 for a couple of 15-minute intervals late Monday, according to the ERCOT website.

Next-day or spot prices at the ERCOT North Hub, which includes Dallas, slid to $34 per MWh for Tuesday from around $41 for Monday. That compares with an average of $33 so far this year, $78 in 2022 and a five-year (2018-2022) average of $66.

(Reporting by Scott DiSavino; editing by Barbara Lewis)

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