June 26, 2012 / 12:57 PM / 8 years ago

Texas grid expects to set June power record again

* Tuesday power use expected to set June record
    * Several days of triple-digit temperatures likely
    * ERCOT urges conservation to avoid straining grid

    June 26 (Reuters) - The Texas power grid expected demand
Tuesday to break the June peak record for a second day in a row
and urged consumers to continue cutting back on power use to
avoid straining the system as much of the state broils under
triple-digit temperatures.
    The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the grid
operator for most of Texas, forecast peak demand Tuesday would
reach 66,415 megawatts (MW), easily surpassing the June record
set Monday of 65,047 MW. Before Monday, the June record was
63,102 MW set last year.
    The state's all-time peak use was 68,379 MW set in August
last summer during a protracted heat wave and drought. 
    Real-time power prices briefly exceeded $100 per
megawatt-hour Monday afternoon. Next-day power prices for
Tuesday traded between $165 and $175 per MWh. 
    The extreme heat hit Sunday when the mercury reached 100
degrees Fahrenheit (38 Celsius) in Houston, San Antonio and
Dallas, the three biggest cities in the Lone Star State,
prompting residents to crank up air conditioners.
    Triple-digit highs were forecast for several more days this
week, with several high enough to set records, AccuWeather.com
forecast.
    ERCOT said in a release it was looking closely at
anticipated electric use and available generation.
    The grid agency said adequate generation resources should be
available to serve the load without activating emergency
programs that could lead to curtailment of power to certain
industrial customers or broader rolling outages. 
    ERCOT said its plan for the week takes into account current
power-plant outages and the possibility of losing additional
resources. 
    The grid agency has projected power use will peak at 67,492
MW this summer, about 1,300 MW above what would be expected in a
normal weather scenario. 
    One megawatt is enough to serve about 200 Texas homes during
hot weather when air conditioners run for extended periods.  
    ERCOT has warned that rolling outages could occur this
summer given the state's limited amount of surplus generation.
  
    An extended heat wave and drought last summer forced ERCOT
to declare emergencies on six days and curtail power to
interruptible customers on two days in August to avoid
widespread rolling outages.  
    The state's shrinking reserve margin has led regulators to
implement a number of wholesale market changes to encourage
construction of new power plants over the long-term.
 
    Energy companies have returned several idled power plants to
service to bolster the summer supply after a new coal-fired
plant expected to be operational was delayed.   
    The biggest transmission and generation companies in ERCOT
include Luminant and Oncor, units of privately held Energy
Future Holdings, CenterPoint Energy, American Electric
Power, PNM Resources, NRG Energy, Exelon
, NextEra Energy and Calpine.
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