Demand for power in Texas will likely hit more record highs this week as homes and business keep their air conditioners cranked up to escape another heatwave.
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 available to meet soaring demand.
Texas residents have worried about extreme weather since a deadly storm in February 2021 left millions without power, water and heat for days as ERCOT struggled to prevent a grid collapse after the closure of an unusually large amount of generation.
Although overall US power demand is projected to ease in 2023 after hitting a record high in 2022, rising economic and population growth is expected to keep boosting electric use in Sun Belt states like Texas.
After setting 11 demand records last summer, ERCOT forecast usage would hit 83,732 megawatts (MW) on Monday and 85,237MW on Tuesday. That would be the fourth record high this summer and would break the current all-time high of 81,406MW set on July 13.
One megawatt can power around 1,000 US homes on a typical day, but only about 200 homes on a hot summer day in Texas.
Meteorologists at AccuWeather forecast high temperatures in Houston, the biggest city in Texas, would hit at least 37.8 Celsius every day from July 17-21. That compares with a normal high of 34C for this time of year.
Forecasts for record demand boosted next-day prices at the ERCOT North Hub, which includes Dallas, to a six-month high of US$475 (about RM2,100) per megawatt hour for Monday. That compares with an average of US$38 so far this year, US$78 in 2022 and a five-year (2018-2022) average of US$66.