Energy

Texas power grid sees record-breaking demand 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

July 26 (Reuters) - The Texas power grid operator on Monday forecast demand would reach a record high over the next week as homes and businesses crank up their air conditioners to escape a heatwave settling over the state.

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

High temperatures in Houston were expected to reach 97 degrees Fahrenheit (36 degrees Celsius) on Monday, according to AccuWeather. Although that is only 2 degrees F above the city's normal seasonal high, energy traders noted temperatures were expected to hit the 90s every day between July 22 and the end of August.

The forecasted extreme temperatures caused the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which operates the grid in most of the state, to project power use will reach 74,668 megawatts (MW) on Monday, 74,753 MW on Aug. 1 and 76,908 MW on Aug. 2.

Those peaks would top the grid's all-time high of 74,820 MW reached in August 2019. One megawatt can power around 200 homes on a hot summer day.

Millions of Texans were left without power and water for days during a deadly winter storm in February, as ERCOT scrambled to prevent an uncontrolled collapse of the grid after an unusually large amount of generation shut down.

ERCOT said there is enough generation available to meet current demand and operating conditions were normal.

While real-time power prices were only in the $70s per megawatt hour (MWh) so far on Monday, traders noted that it was early, and prices will likely rise as temperatures climb.

On-peak power at the ERCOT North hub averaged $208 per MWh so far in 2021 due primarily to price spikes over $8000 during the February freeze.

That compares with an average of $26 per MWh in 2020.

Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Will Dunham and Marguerita Choy

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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