Texas will likely use a record amount of electricity this summer, as warmer weather drives demand during a period of slower economic growth.
The state’s grid manager, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, said it might have to issue emergency energy conservation alerts this summer because of extreme weather, low wind output and more-than-usual outages at power generation facilities. The grid manager issued two emergency calls for voluntary conservation last summer, when temperatures climbed to over 100 degrees while power supplies were dangerously low.
ERCOT said Wednesday that it reduced its forecast for peak power demand by 1,496 megawatts to 75,200 megawatts to account for the economic impact related to coronavirus pandemic. The new forecast, however, is higher than the peak power demand record of 74,820 megawatts set during last summer’s heat wave on Aug. 12. One megawatt is enough to power about 200 homes during a hot summer day in Texas.
The new forecast increases the summer reserve margin to 12.6 percent from 10.6 percent, giving Texas a larger cushion of power supplies heading into the hottest months of the year. The reserve margin got a boost over the past year, as more renewable and gas-fired power projects are started up.
A year ago the reserve margin was 8.6 percent, creating a tight supply of electricity and driving prices repeatedly to $9,000 a megawatt hour, the state’s maximum.
ERCOT’s summer forecast predicts above-normal temperatures for most, if not all, of Texas, according to ERCOT’s senior meteorologist Chris Coleman.
June is shaping up to be hotter than normal and could be one of the hottest in years, according to Coleman’s report. September also is showing above-normal potential for high temperatures. The forecast for July and August isn’t as certain.
Overall, the summer of 2020 in Texas may rank as one of the hottest on record, according to ERCOT. But it’s unlikely to surpass the temperatures of last summer, the fourth hottest summer in Texas in 125 years.