Power demand in the US State of Texas has hit a record high for the second day in a row – and the seventh day this summer – as ongoing heat waves have kept air conditioning systems on.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which operates the grid for more than 26 million customers representing around 90% of the state’s total power load, said it has enough backup resources available to meet soaring demand, Reuters reports.
Significant wind and solar power in the state’s energy mix has helped ERCOT cope with record power demand while also keeping prices down. According to forecasts from Accuweather, temperatures in Houston, Texas’ most populous city, soared to 38°C on Tuesday.
After setting 11 demand records last summer, ERCOT said usage hit a preliminary 83.5GW on Tuesday, just surpassing its all-time high of 83.05GW, recorded on Monday.
During this peak, the grid received more than half (57%) of its power supply from natural gas, with the remainder coming from solar and coal (both 14%), wind (9%) and nuclear (6%), according to federal energy data. This power mix remains largely unchanged from last year’s peak demand hour for 20 July 2022, when 59% of the grid’s power came from gas, 15% from coal, 10% from solar, 9% from wind and 6% from nuclear.
Power security became a top priority in Texas after a deadly winter storm hit the state in February 2021, triggering a power crisis that killed hundreds and resulting in an estimated $195bn in damages. At the time, temperatures fell to as low at -15°C, while more than four million residents became disconnected from the state’s power grid.
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As a result, energy prices shot up, and while gas suppliers and energy infrastructure companies profited from the crisis, some smaller utilities declared bankruptcy as a direct result of unpayable bills to ERCOT.
During the peak of the disaster, Texas was reportedly around four minutes from experiencing a total grid collapse, which could have left tens of thousands of people at risk of freezing to death in their homes.