August 2, 2012 / 12:45 AM / 8 years ago

CORRECTED-Texas sets July power demand record as temperatures soar

(Corrects date of record in lead of Wednesday story.)

HOUSTON, Aug 1 (Reuters) - Texas’ hourly power demand surged to the highest level seen in July on Tuesday as 100-degree-plus temperatures covered much of the state.

Power demand reached 65,970 megawatts (MW) between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. CDT (2100-2200 GMT) on Tuesday, according to preliminary grid data. The previous July hourly record was 65,432 MW set last year during an extended heat wave and drought.

August power demand also started off high. Power demand reached 66,489 MW on Wednesday afternoon, according to grid data.

The temperature in Dallas hit 107 degrees Fahrenheit (41 Celsius) on Wednesday, breaking the city’s record high for the second day in a row, while Wednesday’s high in Houston of 102 degrees also set a new record.

Peak demand is forecast to remain high Thursday, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the primary grid agency for the state.

ERCOT and power companies across the state urged residents to limit afternoon power use. The grid agency issued an advisory to generators as afternoon power supplies tightened, but no other action was taken.

Real-time power prices rose to the low $100 level per megawatt-hour from about $30 earlier in the day, well below the market cap of $4,500 which went into effect Wednesday.

So far this year, Texas has exceeded monthly power-use records in May, June and July. Last year, ERCOT set seven monthly peak-power records as extreme cold in February and an extended heat wave hit the state.

The state’s all-time peak use was 68,379 MW in xAugust 2011.

The grid agency has projected that power use will peak at 67,492 MW this summer, about 1,300 MW above what would be expected in a normal weather scenario.

One megawatt is enough to serve about 200 Texas homes during hot weather when air conditioners run for extended periods.

ERCOT has warned that rolling outages could occur this summer given the state’s limited amount of surplus generation.

The biggest transmission and generation companies in ERCOT include Luminant and Oncor, units of privately held Energy Future Holdings, CenterPoint Energy, American Electric Power, PNM Resources, NRG Energy, Exelon , NextEra Energy and Calpine. (Reporting by Eileen O’Grady; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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