June 13 (Reuters) – Power use in Texas will break records this week as homes and businesses crank up their air conditioners to escape the first heat wave of the 2023 summer season, the state’s power grid operator projected on Tuesday.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which operates the grid for more than 26 million customers representing about 90% of the state’s power load, has said it has enough resources to meet demand.
Extreme weather is a reminder of the February freeze in 2021 that left millions of Texans 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 shut.
Although overall U.S. power demand is expected to ease in 2023 after hitting a record high in 2022, electric use in Sun Belt states like Texas is projected to increase on rising economic and population growth.
AccuWeather forecast high temperatures in Houston, the biggest city in Texas, will rise from 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius) on Tuesday to around 100 F every day from June 15-20. That compares with a normal high of 92 F for this time of year.
ERCOT forecast power use will jump from 76,192 megawatts (MW) on Tuesday to 77,795 MW on Wednesday, 80,288 MW on Thursday, 82,646 MW on Friday and 84,110 MW on Monday.
The forecasts for Thursday, Friday and Monday would top the grid’s current record of 80,148 MW set on July 20, 2022.
Despite the heat, power prices at the ERCOT North Hub <EL-PK-ERTN-SNL>, which includes Dallas, edged up to $34 per megawatt hour for Tuesday from $33 for Monday. That compares with an average of $29 so far this year, $78 in 2022 and a five-year (2018-2022) average of $66.