Energy

Texas power demand expected to hit 2021 highs during heatwave

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Overhead power lines are seen during record-breaking temperatures in Houston, Texas, U.S., February 17, 2021. REUTERS/Adrees Latif/File Photo

Aug 9 (Reuters) - The Texas power grid operator on Monday forecast demand this week would reach its highest in 2021 as homes and businesses crank up air conditioners to escape another heatwave.

The United States has been beset by several extreme weather events this year. InFebruary, a freeze in Texas knocked out power to millions. This summer, there was record heat in the Pacific Northwest.

The U.S. National Weather Service issued a heat advisory for Dallas on Monday and Tuesday where high temperatures are expected to reach the upper 90s Fahrenheit (35 Celsius) every day from Aug. 8-14, according to AccuWeather. The city's normal high is 97 F at this time of year.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which operates most of the state's grid, projected power use will reach 73,754 megawatts (MW) on Monday, 74,093 MW on Tuesday and 74,375 MW on Wednesday.

Those peaks would top this year's current high of 72,856 MW on July 26 but would fall short of the grid's all-time high of 74,820 MW in August 2019. One megawatt can power around 200 homes on a hot summer day. read more

The extreme weather reminded Texans of the February freeze, which left millions without power, water and heat for days during a deadly storm as ERCOT scrambled to prevent an uncontrolled collapse of the grid after an unusually large amount of generation was shut due to freezing natural gas pipelines and wind turbines.

Despite the heat, on-peak power at the ERCOT North hub , which includes Dallas, traded at just $39 per megawatt hour (MWh) for Monday.

That was well below the average of $198 per MWh seen so far in 2021 due primarily to price spikes over $8,000 during the February freeze, but was above 2020's average of $26 and the five-year (2016-2020) average of $33.

Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Anil D'Silva and David Gregorio

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