Texas Heat Wave Prompts Energy Conservation Order, High Prices

Texas Heat Wave Prompts Energy Conservation Order, High Prices
(Photo Credit: Mike Goad)

Extreme heat across Texas this week caused electricity usage to spike, prompting the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) to issue energy emergency alerts. Prices nearly tripled as demand hit record highs.

ERCOT reported on Monday that demand hit a record 74,531 megawatts between 4 pm and 5 pm CDT amid 100°F temperatures, according to Reuters. Then on Tuesday, ERCOT issued an energy emergency alert as operating reserves went below 2,300 MW — the first time the council had issued an energy emergency alert known as EEA1 since January 2014.

None of this came as a surprise. In May, ERCOT anticipated a difficult summer, forecasting that the region was on track to break peak demand records. Although officials identified the need to enter energy emergency alert status, they told Utility Dive at the time that rolling blackouts were unlikely.

The energy emergency alert was canceled on Tuesday as ERCOT returned to normal grid operations in the early evening. However, prices have been skyrocketing. Reuters reported on Wednesday that spot power prices in the state had nearly tripled due to the increase in demand, even reaching $9,000 per megawatt hour at one point.

“Despite lower demand projected for Wednesday, next-day power prices at the ERCOT North hub soared from $114.25 per megawatt hour (MWh) for Tuesday to $315.00 for Wednesday, their highest since July 2018,” Reuters journalist Scott DiSavino wrote.

During an EEA1, ERCOT asks customers to reduce cooling demand, limit their use of large appliances, and schedule pool pumps to run during off-peak times, Utility Dive’s Robert Walton explained. He added that an EEA2 gets issued when reserves fall under 1,750 MW and allows for industrial demand response; an EEA3 happens when reserves dip below 1,000 MW and typically involves rotating outages.

On Thursday afternoon, ERCOT declared another EEA1 and urged customers to monitor real-time grid conditions on Twitter.

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