United States

Texas power grid passes first of many tests to meet demand as heatwave lingers

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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/File Photo

July 27 (Reuters) - The Texas power grid passed the first of what could be many tests over the next week by meeting the highest demand this year on Monday without problems as homes and businesses cranked up their air conditioners to escape the latest heatwave.

The United States has been beset by 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 over the next week were expected to reach the mid 90s degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius) in Houston and the low 100s in Austin, Dallas and San Antonio, according to AccuWeather.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which operates the grid in most of the state, said power use hit a preliminary peak for the year of 72,856 megawatts (MW) on Monday, and would reach 72,925 MW on July 30, 73,275 MW on Aug. 1 and 74,160 MW on Aug. 2.

ERCOT said those peaks were lower than it projected on Monday due to slightly less hot forecasts that should keep demand below July's 74,244-MW record and the all-time high of 74,820 MW in August 2019. One megawatt can power around 200 homes in the summer.

ERCOT has already broken monthly records, including 70,219 MW in June and 69,692 MW in February when millions of Texans were left 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 shut.

Real-time prices on Monday remained below $100 per megawatt hour (MWh) all day.

That compares with an average of $208/MWh at the ERCOT North so far in 2021 due primarily to price spikes over $8,000 during the February freeze. The 2020 average was just $26.

Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Marguerita Choy

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