Texas power demand to hit record high during Tuesday heat

Texas power demand to hit record high during Tuesday heat 1
FILE PHOTO: Winter weather caused electricity blackouts in Houston

(Reuters) -The Texas power grid operator forecast demand would reach a record high on Tuesday as homes and businesses crank up their air conditioners to escape another heatwave.

The grid, however, also forecast power use would reach that level on Monday, only to pull back that outlook as cooler weather reduced the peaks.

The United States has been beset by extreme weather this year, including a freeze in Texas that knocked out power to millions in February and record heat in the Pacific Northwest this summer.

Temperatures in Houston, the biggest city in Texas, will reach the upper 90s Fahrenheit (35 Celsius) every day from Aug. 22 to 25, according to AccuWeather. That compares with a normal high of 94 F at this time of year.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which operates most of the state’s grid, projected power use would reach 74,956 megawatts (MW) on Tuesday, topping the grid’s all-time high of 74,820 MW set in August 2019.

One megawatt can power around 200 homes on a hot summer day.

So far on Tuesday, ERCOT said the grid was operating normally with over 78,171 MW of supply available to meet current demand.

Extreme weather reminds Texans of the February freeze that left millions 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 was shut.

Despite the heat, real-time power prices in ERCOT had only reached the $40s per megawatt hour (MWh) so far on Tuesday.

That is well below the $187/MWh average seen so far in 2021 at the ERCOT North hub, which includes Dallas, due primarily to price spikes over $8,000 during the February freeze, and compares with an average of $26 in 2020 and a five-year (2016-2020) average of $33.

(Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Jonathan Oatis)