Texas power demand to hit 2016 peak amid heat wave: ERCOT

Source: By Scott DiSavino, Reuters • Posted: Friday, August 5, 2016

Demand for electricity in Texas is forecast to reach the highest so far in 2016 on Thursday as a brutal heat wave bakes the Lone Star State, according to the state’s power grid operator, which expects supplies to be sufficient to meet the peak.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which operates the grid in most of the state, predicted demand would reach 69,589 MW on Thursday, topping the unofficial hourly high for the year of 68,800 MW set on Wednesday.

ERCOT forecast demand would remain high over the next seven days but was not expected to reach Thursday’s forecast peak. The grid’s high was 69,877 MW set on Aug. 10, 2015. In the spring, ERCOT forecast usage could reach 70,588 MW during the summer.

That high demand for air conditioning boosted next-day power prices at the Ercot North hub to their highest level in a year. Gas prices at the Katy hub, near Houston, meanwhile, were still about 10 cents shy of their high for the year.

In the spring, ERCOT forecast gas would power about 60 percent of generation during the summer peak.

The U.S. National Weather Service issued a heat advisory for some of the biggest cities in Texas, including Dallas, because high temperatures and humidity could result in a heat index of up to 106 degrees Fahrenheit (41 Celsius).

Meteorologists at AccuWeather forecast high temperatures in Houston, San Antonio and Dallas will reach the 90s and 100s almost every day for the rest of the month.

ERCOT spokeswoman Robbie Searcy said the grid anticipates having enough power supplies to keep up with forecast demand so long as all generation expected to be available remains so.

She noted wind resources were expected to produce more energy on Thursday than Wednesday with about 5,400 MW expected from wind at the peak hour later this afternoon.

There are about 16,000 MW of wind generation in ERCOT, which typically produce most energy overnight.

ERCOT has not issued any notices about operating reserves on Thursday. On both Tuesday and Wednesday, the grid issued advisories that operating reserves fell below 3,000 MW. The grid issued nine similar notices in July.

Operating reserves are the extra generating capacity available to meet demand within a short period of time in case a generator goes down or there is another disruption to supply.

(Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Bill Trott)