ERCOT Usage Records

Although statewide electric usage
has been high this week, it still
doesn’t match the record
set back in August of 2011.

As the temperature reaches triple digits in Texas, stepping outside may feel more like stepping into a hot pizza oven. Many Texans are trying to beat the heat by staying indoors and running their air conditioners harder.

ERCOT, the organization that operates the power grid, reports that with all this summer heat, Texans have been inching closer and closer to the all-time record for peak energy consumption of 68,379 megawatts, set back in August of 2011. (A megawatt is approximately enough power to serve 200 homes during hot weather conditions).

On Tuesday, electricity use by Texans peaked for the year at 66,500 megawatts. But as temperatures neared record highs on Wednesday, usage peaked again at 67,150 MW, which means the state used more electricity that day than any other day this year. This record surpasses the 2012 summer record of 66,548 MW, and represents the third highest demand in history, according to ERCOT.

ERCOT spokeswoman Robbie Searcy expects peak demand to hit over 65,000 MW for the next two days, reaching 66,885 on Thursday and 65,666 on Friday. She said she does not expect this high-usage trend to continue into the weekend or next week, as temperatures are predicted to drop.

ERCOT sent out a heat advisory to generators and transmission providers on Thursday for “extreme hot weather,” but does not expect to call a full-fledged “heat emergency” in the foreseeable future, Searcy said. In the event of an heat emergency, ERCOT will disburse relevant information to the public via news outlets and social media.

“Energy consumers should stay aware of conditions in case they change, but we have plenty of generation available at this time,” Searcy said.

In a press release issued Wednesday afternoon, ERCOT noted the fuel mix powering the grid during Wednesday’s peak included 59.3 percent natural gas, 29.2 percent coal, 7.5 percent nuclear, 3.4 percent wind, 0.3 percent diesel generation, 0.2 percent solar and biomass, and 0.1 percent hydroelectric power.

For more information on the ERCOT power grid or to anticipate load forecasts, head over to ERCOT’s website.

— Jonathan Coker