That humming you heard on Sunday was millions of air conditioners kicking on across the state of Texas to buffer against triple-digit heat, setting a new all-time record for electricity demand.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas hit a new record for electricity demand, at 75,083 megawatts, according to a chart on the grid operator’s website. The prior record, set on Aug. 12, 2019, was 74,820 megawatts.
And all that A/C unit rattling and humming meant that ERCOT had enough juice to meet demand at its peak, at around 5:20 p.m. The peak time for electricity demand is between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.
ERCOT is grappling with unusually hot weather this June as the agency is changing some protocols to improve reliability, after the exceptionally cold weather in February 2020 pushed demand for energy so high, that ERCOT had to turn off power to swaths of the state.
Now the Public Utility Commission of Texas, which oversees ERCOT, is considering fundamental changes to invite more investment in power plants to meet growing demand. As the population of Texas grows, demand for electricity does, too.
In May, the power grid operator released a seasonal report predicting record demand this summer of 77,317, beyond the record set on Sunday. ERCOT estimates it can meet extreme demand for electricity this summer if power plants have the typical number of outages. But unusually high power plant outages could result in shortages, potentially outages.
The agency provides electricity to 90% of Texas residents, more than 26 million customers. One megawatt of electricity powers about 200 homes during times of peak demand. .
Last year, ERCOT had a conservation request that lasted five days in June. It was the longest request made in the month of June between 2008 and 2021, the agency said. While ERCOT asked Texans to back off of using electricity at times this spring to avoid tight supply, so far this June, no outages and no official conservation alerts.
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