Texas Sets Record for Gas Power Burn, Still Barely Enough
The Electricity Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) on August 10 set a record for electricity demand, topping 69,000 MW twice during the afternoon. The peak came as the Energy Information Administration (EIA) noted that Texas also set a record for gas power burn—natural gas usage in its power sector—reaching an average 4.5 Bcf/d through August 11.
The peak came during a recent heat wave, with temperatures across the state topping 100F. Though reserves briefly fell below 2,500 MW, ERCOT was able to weather the episode without any system emergencies. Wholesale prices peaked at $2,250/MWh during the hour period of greatest demand, which hit an all-time high of 69,783 MW.
Both ERCOT and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called for Texans to curb their power usage until the heat wave abated, turning off unnecessary appliances and turning up thermostats to reduce the load from air conditioning.
Though ERCOT struggled with narrow reserve margins during the early 2010s, it has seen improvements since a widely reported episode in 2011 when another heat wave forced load shedding and ERCOT had to bring several mothballed plants out of retirement to bolster reliability. Since then, ERCOT has added around 10 GW of new capacity, mostly wind and gas-fired, and currently has more than 73,000 MW on the grid. Several large gas plants have come online in Temple, Sherman, and Houston, though the Sherman plant suffered a forced outage earlier this month.