Power surge: Texas could set a record for peak energy usage this summer
You’d be relieved to know that Texas isn’t expecting an abnormally hot summer. But the state could set a record for peak electricity usage in the next few months.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, the nonprofit company that operates the state’s grid, is expecting a peak usage this summer of about 73,000 megawatts. The projection is based on average peak weather conditions during the past 14 years.
Last year, demand topped 70,000 megawatts five times and reached a maximum of 71,110 megawatts on Aug. 11. ERCOT estimates that 1 megawatt is enough electricity to power 200 homes on a hot summer day.
“At this time, we do not anticipate any generation resource adequacy issues during the coming months, although we could see a need for conservation in the case of extended extreme temperatures or very low wind generation output during peak conditions,” Warren Lasher, ERCOT senior director of system planning, said in a written statement.
ERCOT also announced Tuesday that the state expects to have enough electricity to keep the lights on and air conditioners humming from June through September. The state’s total generation capacity is estimated to be nearly 82,000 megawatts.
That includes 2,500 additional megawatts from gas-fired plants plus wind and solar projects that would add 350 megawatts to the summer’s peak hours.
If the projections are right, Texas would have about 5,500 megawatts in reserves when peak demand arrives. That number takes into account typical outages.
Reserves of less than 2,300 megawatts put the state at risk of what ERCOT labels a “Power Watch” and when it calls for voluntary conservation.
Of several scenarios created by ERCOT, only the “extreme peak load” option would cause reserves to drop below that 2,300-megawatt number. That’s based on a summer comparable to the 2011 record-setter (71 triple-digit days and highest average temperature).