Texas power grid braces for record electric use

HOUSTON, TEXAS - Temperatures of 100 degrees Fahrenheit and higher forecast for August 13 across Texas may push electric use in the state to an all-time record, according to the grid operator.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) said power demand might reach 65,911 megawatts as temperatures peak between 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. CDT, surpassing the August 17, 2006 peak of 62,339 MW.

In its annual summer forecast released in May, ERCOT estimated the 2007 peak would be 63,794 MW, up 2.3 percent from the 2006 record.

So far this summer, ERCOT demand has not hit 60,000 MW due to a rainy June and July. The August 10 peak demand was 59,067 MW as isolated showers trimmed afternoon demand around Houston.

The power region has about 70,200 MW of generation. ERCOT can curtail about 1,100 MW of load when supplies are tight, but no formal demand-response program under which pays companies to trim consumption during emergencies.

An ERCOT spokeswoman said the agency was ready for hot weather and anticipated no problems unless generators unexpectedly shut.

The grid operator used blackouts in April 2006 to avoid widespread power disruption when an early heat wave hit while generators had dozens of power plants shut for seasonal maintenance.


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