Texas power demand to hit 2016 peaks this week amid heat wave: ERCOT

(Reuters) - Demand for electricity in Texas this week is forecast to reach the highest so far in 2016 as a brutal heat wave bakes the Lone Star State, the state’s power grid operator said Wednesday, noting it expects supplies to be sufficient to meet the peak.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which operates the power grid in most of Texas, forecast peak demand would reach 68,371 megawatts on Wednesday and 68,454 MW on Thursday, according to its website.

That would top Tuesday’s preliminary peak of 67,503 MW, which is the unofficial high so far for the year.

ERCOT’s all-time peak was 69,877 MW set on Aug. 10, 2015. In the spring, the grid forecast demand would top out around 70,588 MW during the summer of 2016.

The U.S. National Weather Service issued a heat advisory for some of the biggest cities in Texas, including San Antonio and Dallas, because high temperatures and humidity will result in a heat index between 105 and 109 degrees Fahrenheit (41-43 Celsius).

Meteorologists at AccuWeather forecast high temperatures in Houston, San Antonio and Dallas will reach the 90s and 100s every day for the rest of the month.

Robbie Searcy, a spokeswoman at ERCOT, said the grid had more generation available on Wednesday than on Tuesday and did not anticipate any operating problems so long as all of the generation remains available.

On Tuesday, ERCOT issued a notice that operating reserves were expected to fall below 3,000 MW. That was ERCOT’s first such notice in August. The grid operator issued nine similar notices in July.

Operating reserves are the extra generating capacity available to meet demand within a short period of time in case a generator goes down or there is another disruption to supply.

Searcy said operating reserves were projected to top 5,800 MW on Wednesday.

In answer to a question about rotating outages, Searcy said ERCOT certainly did not anticipate needing to use rotating outages to manage power usage this week.

She said the last time ERCOT imposed system-wide rotating or rolling outages was in February 2011. There were some localized rotating outages in the Lower Rio Grande Valley in 2014.

Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Marguerita Choy