The Texas power grid operator on Tuesday forecast demand this week would reach its highest in 2021 as homes and businesses crank up air conditioners to escape another heatwave.
The United States has been beset by several extreme weather events this year, including a freeze in Texas that knocked out power to millions in February and record heat in the Pacific Northwest this summer.
High temperatures in Dallas will reach the upper 90s Fahrenheit (35 Celsius) every day from Aug. 8-14, according to AccuWeather forecasts. The city’s normal high is 97 F at this time of year.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which operates most of the state’s grid, said power use will rise from a preliminary 72,734 megawatts (MW) on Monday to 74,214 MW on Tuesday and 74,546 MW on Wednesday.
Those peaks would top this year’s current high of 72,856 MW on July 26, though below the grid’s all-time high of 74,820 MW in August 2019. One megawatt can power around 200 homes on a hot summer day.
In an early outlook, ERCOT projected demand will break the record on Aug. 17 at 75,012 MW.
Extreme weather reminds Texans of the February freeze that left millions without power, water and heat for days during a deadly storm as ERCOT scrambled to prevent a grid collapse.
Despite the heat, on-peak power at the ERCOT North hub, which includes Dallas, traded at just $40 per megawatt hour (MWh) for Tuesday.
That was well below the average of $197 per MWh seen so far in 2021 due primarily to price spikes over $8,000 during the February freeze, and compares with 2020’s $26 average and a five-year (2016-2020) average of $33.