Source: U,S. Department of Energy, ERCOT. Infographic by R.A. Dyer

On June 23 — a hot day even by Texas standards — electrical consumption on the state’s main power grid spiked in quick succession to 66.7 gigawatts, 67.5 gigawatts and then to 67.7 gigawatts.. Each spike represented a new June record for peak power usage, and they all beat the previous 66.5 GW record set in June 2012.

To put those numbers in perspective, a single gigawatt is enough power for approximately 300,000 to 500,000 homes.  A single gigawatt is the output of 500 utility-scale wind turbines, or the equivalent of 2,000 engines from 2,000 Corvette sports cars.

That’s a lot of power.

But the records set last month represent historic highs for June months, and not all-time records. According to ERCOT, which is the organization that oversees the state’s main power grid, the much higher all-time peak record was set during the brutal summer of 2011, when Texans during a single day in August hit peak consumption of more than 71 GW.

The increasingly hot summers and the needs of a growing state help explain the growing demands on the grid. But even still, ERCOT says the state should have enough generating capacity to keep the lights on for the foreseeable future.

In a report released last May, ERCOT projected that generation capacity should exceed projected peak demands for the next five years. You can read about that report here.

— R.A. Dyer

R.A. "Jake" Dyer

R.A. "Jake" Dyer

Is a policy analyst for TCAP, a coalition of cities and other political subdivisions that purchase electricity in the deregulated market for their own governmental use. Because high energy costs can impact municipal budgets and the ability to fund essential services, TCAP, as part of its mission, actively promotes affordable energy policies. High energy prices also place a burden on local businesses and home consumers.

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