(Reuters) -The Texas power grid operator forecast demand would reach record highs on Monday and Tuesday as homes and businesses crank up their air conditioners to escape another heat wave.
The United States has been beset by extreme weather this year, including a freeze in Texas that knocked out power to millions in February and record heat in the Pacific Northwest this summer.
Temperatures in Houston, the biggest city in Texas by population, will reach the upper 90s Fahrenheit (35 Celsius) every day from Aug. 22-25, according to AccuWeather. That compares with a normal high in the city of 95 F (35 C) at this time of year.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which operates most of the state’s grid, projected power use would reach 75,107 megawatts (MW) on Monday and 75,692 MW on Tuesday.Monday’s forecast is a little lower than ERCOT projected in the morning, but would still top the grid’s all-time high of 74,820 MW set in August 2019.
One megawatt can power around 200 homes on a hot summer day.
So far on Monday, ERCOT said the grid was operating normally with over 76,500 MW of supply available to meet current demand.
Extreme weather reminds Texans of the 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.
Despite the heat, real-time power prices in ERCOT had only reached the $30s per megawatt hour (MWh) so far on Monday.
That is well below the $188/MWh average seen so far in 2021 at the ERCOT North hub, which includes Dallas, due primarily to price spikes over $8,000 during the February freeze, and compares with an average of $26 in 2020 and a five-year (2016-2020) average of $33.
(Reporting by Scott DiSavino; editing by Barbara Lewis and Jonathan Oatis)