Texas heatwave to test power grid again this week

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

May 16 (Reuters) - A heatwave will test the Texas power system again this week after power plant failures late Friday caused prices to spike, forcing the grid operator to urge homes and businesses to turn up their air conditioner thermostats to conserve energy.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which operates the grid for most of the state, said conditions were normal early Monday and has said repeatedly that it expects to have enough resources to meet demand.

On Friday, real-time prices in ERCOT topped $4,000 per megawatt hour (MWh) for about an hour around 5 p.m. CDT after six power plants shut unexpectedly. read more

But as the units returned to service, real-time prices have remained below $100 since around 10 p.m. on Friday.

AccuWeather forecast high temperatures in Houston, the biggest city in Texas, would reach 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 Celsius) on Monday before easing to the low to mid 90s F for the rest of the week. That compares with a normal high of 86 F in the city at this time of year.

The extreme weather reminds Texans of the 2021 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.

ERCOT projected power demand would peak at 73,107 megawatts (MW) on Monday. That would break the grid's current record for the month of May of 70,703 MW set on May 9, but would remain below the all-time peak of 74,820 MW in August 2019. read more

One megawatt can power around 1,000 U.S. homes on a typical day, but only about 200 homes on a hot summer day in Texas.

Next-day prices at the ERCOT North hub , which includes Dallas, jumped to an 11-month high of $246 for Monday.

Reporting by Scott DiSavino; editing by David Evans

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