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Texas Electricity Demand Spikes (Summer 2023)

The demand for electricity throughout Texas surged to its highest point ever two days ago (Tuesday, June 27) when rising temps and massive heat dome covered the state. A heat wave continues to bake Texas for two weeks now reaching 100+ temps.

ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas), which operates the grid serving most of the state, reports that electricity demand rose to 80,828 megawatts between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. Tuesday. That’s the amount of energy needed to power more than than 16.1 million homes while blasting air conditioners. The new record for electricity demand also breaks the all-time peak demand record on the ERCOT power grid. The number tops the previous record of 80,148 megawatts set just last year in July 2022 (76,681 megawatts). That menas this new records happened three weeks earlier in the season. Scary!

Despite triple-digit temperatures and soaring power use, ERCOT issued only 1 request for residents to reduce energy use last week on Tuesday, June 20th. Even so, air conditioners whir around the clock while residents do their best to cool down. The grid operator has issued another weather watch through the end of this week because of the continued weather pattern.

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In its seasonal summer report released in May, ERCOT forecast that summer demand would hit 82,739 megawatts. The report expects there to be enough electricity supply through the summer, barring the unlikely occurrence of intense heat, widespread outages of natural gas and coal power plants, and a shortage of renewable energy.

Approximately 45% of the electricity on the grid Tuesday evening came from natural gas fired power plants and about 20% came from coal and nuclear plants. About 23% of power came from wind energy, and another 12% came from the state’s rapidly growing fleet of utility-scale solar farms.

Earlier this spring, the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) warned that there is likely to be a shortage of power supply/production that can be brought online with short notice during extreme summer conditions. Eerily, current data show that peak demand for electricity this summer will exceed the amount we can generate from on-demand dispatchable power.

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