Texans, for the second day in a row, set back-to-back records on Thursday for electric consumption.
Sometime between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m., system demand reached 73,259 megawatts, according to the state’s primary grid operator. That surpassed the previous record of 72,691 megawatts set just an hour earlier.
And both the usage peaks surpassed back-to-back records of 72,192 MW and 71,438 MW set on Wednesday. The previous all-time record of 71,110 MW was set on Aug. 11, 2016.
But the power continued flowing without interruption and the new records did not come as a complete surprise to forecasters. ERCOT said the new peak on Thursday marked the first time system-wide demand exceeded 73,000 MW (73 gigawatts, see chart).
“We fully expect to keep hitting new demand records as summer 2018 continues,” ERCOT said in a press release Wednesday afternoon.
ERCOT, also known as the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, oversees the state’s primary power grid. It predicted last March that power consumption would hit a new all-time high sometime between June and September.
ERCOT this week also predicted that usage could reach 74,405 MW on Friday, 72,169 MW on Saturday, 72,124 MW on Sunday, 75,043 MW on July 23 and 74,510 MW on July 24, according to the Reuters news service.
ERCOT also earlier projected that there will be 78,184 megawatts of generation available to serve peak demand this summer — or enough to keep the lights on if normal summer usage projections hold.
ERCOT said in a report last March that it anticipates voluntary load reductions — that is, industrial users ramping down consumption in exchange for payments — to help maintain system reliability this summer. ERCOT has said that industrial facilities likely will sell into the market in response to higher wholesale power prices during peak usage periods.
Temperatures climbed well into the triple digits throughout the state and the National Weather Service issued repeated heat advisories. A new weekend peak demand record also was set on Sunday with Texans consumed 71,444 MW of power between 5 and 6 p.m. That surpassed by 355 megawatts what had been a new weekend peak record that Texans set on Saturday.
A single megawatt is enough power to serve about 200 homes during a hot summer day. A gigawatt is a 1,000 megawatts.
Actual loads can be viewed here.
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.