(Reuters) – Power demand in Texas hit a monthly record on Thursday and will likely break that high on Friday as consumers keep air conditioners cranked up to escape a lingering spring heatwave.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which operates the grid for most of the state, said conditions were normal early Friday.
At the start of the current heat, ERCOT was forced to ask customers to conserve energy on May 13 after several power plants shut unexpectedly, causing real-time prices to soar to over $4,000 per megawatt hour (MWh).
But prices have settled down since. Real-time prices have remained below $100 per MWh since Wednesday night.
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.
AccuWeather forecast high temperatures in Houston, the biggest city in Texas, would reach the low 90s Fahrenheit (33.3 Celsius) on Friday and Saturday. That compares with a normal high of 87 in the city at this time of year.
ERCOT said demand peaked at 71,160 megawatts (MW) on Thursday and will rise to 72,792 MW on Friday.
Thursday’s high broke the grid’s 70,804 MW record for the month of May set on Tuesday, but remained well short of the all-time high of 74,820 MW in August 2019.
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.
ERCOT forecast continued economic growth would boost peak demand to 77,317 MW this summer. The grid expects the addition of wind and solar plants over the past year increased the amount of power resources available this summer to 91,392 MW.
(Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)