Texas Breaks Power Use Record As Heat Wave Roasts State

By Rye Druzin
San Antonio Express-News

With temperatures reaching into the 100s and a booming population trying to stay cool, Texas hit a new record for electricity consumption on Wednesday.

Power use hit 72,192 megawatts on Wednesday afternoon, edging past the Aug. 2016 record use of 71,110 megawatts, according to figures from Texas' grid operator.

“As Texans across the state are well aware, it's extremely hot this week and for the foreseeable future,” said Theresa Gage, spokeswoman for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the grid operator for much of the state. “Electricity providers and ERCOT are working around the clock to ensure they have air conditioning to see them through this.”

ERCOT oversees the Texas power grid that provides 90 percent of Texas' electricity load and powers 24 million customers. A megawatt of electricity can power roughly 200 Texas homes on a hot day.

Texas is at the start of a prolonged heatwave with forecasters estimating that temperatures will stay at or above 100 degrees Fahrenheit in San Antonio and Austin through July 27. Temperatures in Dallas, Fort Worth and Houston are expected to be in the 100s at least through Monday and stay in the 90s.

But even with the heat wave in full swing, Texas has not suffered blackouts or brownouts, which happen when there's not enough power on the grid to meet demand.

Joshua Rhodes, a research associate at the University of Texas at Austin's Energy Institute, said ERCOT has been able to keep the grid stable by getting transmission work and maintenance done aheasd of the high demand times.

Charlie Palmer, the managing director of Houston-based energy consulting firm Opportune LLP's Process and Technology Practice, said record demand is in line with ongoing trends. Power use in the ERCOT system has increased 10 percent from 2012 through 2017, according to data from the grid operator.


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