Houston Community News >> Record Heat in Texas

8/18/2006 HOUSTON (Reuters) - Temperatures of 100 degrees Fahrenheit and higher pushed electric use in Texas to an all-time record, the second such peak in two months, according to the grid operator.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) said power demand reached 63,065 megawatts as temperatures peaked between 4:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. CDT (2100-2200 GMT), surpassing the July 17 peak of 62,396 MW. Previous projections had not foreseen consumption at such levels until 2007.  


The new record exceeds the 2005 peak by 4.6 percent, double the increase forecast by the grid operator. The state has seen monthly record power use since April. Earlier Thursday, the grid operator asked residents and businesses to scale back use of air conditioners and other appliances. No other emergency action was taken by 5 p.m. as supplies appeared adequate to avoid rolling blackouts which last occurred exactly four months ago.

An ERCOT advisory issued earlier on Thursday warned market participants that the heat "could threaten ERCOT system reliability and has a reasonable expectation of leading ERCOT into record-breaking demand," according to the agency's Web site. Highs across the state rose above the 100-degree mark, with the high in Dallas forecast to hit 105 degrees, 10 degrees above normal, according to Intellicast.com.

Austin, San Antonio, Waco and McAllen are also expected to reach 100 degrees or more on Thursday while much of the rest of ERCOT, including Houston, will be in the upper 90s.

Kent Saathoff, ERCOT's director of system operations, said ERCOT has been adding as much as 1,500 megawatts to its expectations in day-ahead projections to avoid a repeat of April 17, when the agency was forced to use rotating blackouts to keep the system in balance.

The state's power resources became strained in April when an early heat wave hit while dozens of power plants were shut for seasonal maintenance. "Obviously, we don't want to get caught short," said Saathoff.

Saathoff said Texas power retailers may be encouraging large industrial customers to trim use in times of high demand. In Texas, some annual transmission costs are allocated to users based on consumption on peak summer days, so there is an incentive to cut use, Saathoff said.

(Contributed by Reuters)