Source: United States Department of Energy, ERCOT. Graphic by R.A. Dyer.

Predicted record-breaking electricity usage and tightening power reserves could make for a challenging summer for ERCOT, the Texas grid operator.

Also known as the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the organization released two reports on Thursday — including a preliminary report predicting record high power usage during the upcoming summer season.

According to that report, total consumption could hit 72,974 megawatts sometime between June and September, assuming normal weather conditions. That would exceed the all-time summer peak record of 71,110 MW set on Aug. 11, 2016, according to ERCOT.

The preliminary summer report also projected total generation capacity during the summer months at 77,658 megawatts.

ERCOT said it anticipates voluntary load reductions — that is, industrial users ramping down consumption in exchange for payments — to help maintain system reliability. It said that industrial facilities likely will sell into the market in response to higher wholesale power prices during peak usage periods.

“The ERCOT wholesale market provides strong financial incentives for generators to be available when demand rises, and for retail electric providers to prepare for price fluctuations,” ERCOT said in a release.

ERCOT also released a final spring report forecasting peak usage at 59,477 megawatts during that season, defined as March through May. The organization said it anticipates there will be sufficient generation to meet system-wide demand under a range of extreme system conditions.

A single megawatt is enough power to serve about 200 homes during a hot summer day. A gigawatt is 1,000 megawatts.

 

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