August 24, 2010

Texas Sets Electricity Use Record

According to initial data from the state grid operator, Texas set a fourth all-time electricity used record on Monday afternoon as many school districts and universities across the state started school, boosting air conditioning demand.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) said that power use between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. CDT was 65,715 megawatts, surpassing the 64,805 MW record set last week.

ECROT did not expect peak-house power consumption to reach 65,000 MW before the summer of 2011 because of the economic slowdown.

The new record blew past the week-earlier record by 910 MW and the 2009 peak by 2,315 MW.

"The ERCOT region is continuing to experience high temperatures throughout the state which is causing high electricity usage," said Kent Saathoff, ERCOT's vice president of system planning and operations.

"We're very pleased that ERCOT system operators and the region's transmission and generation owners were able to manage today's record demand without any major issues," Saathoff said in a release.

Electricity from the state's wind farms average 650 MW during peak hours, which is just 1 percent of power demand.

According to the ECROT website, real-time power prices briefly touched $2,200 per megawatt-hour as power use soared, but quickly dropped below $300 per MWh.

The grid operator issued an advisory that power reserves for the afternoon hours could be strained.

ERCOT has 66,228 MW of installed capacity and other available resources equaling 75,913 MW.  Extra generation is needed as a cushion during periods of high demand in order to try and avoid blackouts.

According to Telvent DTN, high temperatures in the state's three largest cities, Houston, San Antonio and Dallas, were all forecast above 100 degrees Fahrenheit on Monday.

The grid operator said that one megawatt can power about 500 average Texas homes under normal conditions, but only 200 homes during this summer's hot weather.

Power use in Texas has exceeded ECROT's summer peak forecast of 64,052 MW, which was just one percent above 2009's peak.

Texas' largest power delivery companies have reported slow growth in electricity use despite the recession.  Other utility companies in the Midwest and Southeast have watched power use slide since 2008.

Temperatures are expected to slip a few degrees on Tuesday, which will reduce demand to less than 64,000 MW.

According to ERCOT, power demand in Texas reached 63,594 MW on August 4, surpassing the 2009 peak of 63,400 MW.


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