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Energy use in Texas sets a record as temperatures rise

Overhead power lines are seen during record temperatures in Houston, Texas, US, February 17, 2021. REUTERS/Adris Latif

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June 6 (Reuters) – Electricity demand in Texas is set to break an all-time record this week, testing the grid’s resilience after generation problems this year and days of blackouts during a severe freeze in 2021.

Extreme weather is increasingly straining power grids across the United States, and regulators predict record heat and drought this summer could cause power outages in several regions. Read more

Texas is the most watched state among power analysts due to its unique composition and great demand. The Electrical Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which manages the grid for much of the state, expects power demand to rise to an all-time record on Tuesday — surpassing levels reached in August of 2019.

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The state is the nation’s largest energy producer and largest consumer. Its network is largely isolated from the rest of the US to avoid certain federal regulations, which prevent it from relying on other US networks in the event of an emergency. The state suffered several days without power during Winter Storm Urey in February 2021.

ERCOT said it had enough resources available to meet expected demand, but it has already run into problems this year.

During a small heatwave in mid-May, ERCOT was forced to ask customers to conserve energy after several power plants closed unexpectedly, briefly driving real-time prices to more than $4,000 per megawatt-hour (MWh) , compared to an average of $60. this year. Read more

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Even if ERCOT has enough resources to keep the lights on this summer, the grid’s power lines may not be able to move all the energy from where it’s generated to where it’s consumed, increasing costs for consumers.

“Transport congestion in the real-time market increased 46% in 2021, to a total of $2.1 billion,” Potomac Economics, independent market monitor at ERCOT, said in a report in May. When this congestion occurs, it raises prices for buyers who need the power source. Over $560 million of congestion cost was generated during winter storm Yuri.

AccuWeather expects temperatures in Houston to remain in the high 90 Fahrenheit throughout the week, reaching 101 F (38.3 C) Saturday, 10 F above normal.

ERCOT expects power use to reach 77,544 MW on Tuesday, surpassing the grid’s all-time high of 74,820 MW in August 2019. Read more

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ERCOT says the addition of wind and solar power plants over the past year would boost the available energy resources to 91,392 megawatts. One megawatt can supply about 1,000 American homes on a typical day, but only about 200 on a hot summer’s day.

Energy demand is growing as Texas has been the third fastest growing state by population in the past decade, according to US Census data. ERCOT serves more than 26 million customers in Texas, covering approximately 90% of the state’s energy demand.

Greenberg said that the state’s industrial sector accounts for 23% of the energy use of the industrial sector nationwide, which is expected to grow due to drilling, refining, and cryptocurrency mining.

(Reporting by Scott DeSavino) Editing by Shizuo Nomiyama and John Stonestreet

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