AUSTIN, Texas — On Monday, the Texas power grid again broke a record. At its peak, power demand was over 76,600 megawatts.
Just over a week ago, Texas broke the record for power demand, with demand just over 75,080 megawatts during peak hours.
The No. 1 stressor on Texas’s electric grid is people running their air conditioners, which most are doing heading into an extremely hot week.
To give you some perspective, ERCOT just released its latest weather update saying this was the warmest April Texas has seen since 2012, and the warmest May on record. It is likely we will not see a break from the high heat this summer. ERCOT said in its Summer Weather Update that this summer closely resembles the summer of 2011. Yet, this summer is trending even hotter than 2011 with 105-degree, or hotter, days being frequent.
Because of that, ERCOT has already twice now hit a record for the most demand ever, and that record will likely continue to be broken this summer.
It’s something energy and climate experts are watching closely.
“During winter storm Uri, the grid didn’t stay up during the worst-case scenario,” said Andrew Dressler with Texas A&M University. “This year it’s looking maybe more likely that we have a worst-case heat wave event and ERCOT has to be ready for it if that happens.”
His concern? The power grid is old.
Dressler is one of many experts saying that because Texas hasn’t made necessary investments to update it, there’s really no margin for error if something goes wrong.
The report notes the extreme weather events Texas experienced since 2021 include the coldest winter period since the 1980s in February 2021, the warmest December ever recorded in 2021, and one of the hottest springs ever recorded in 2022. Yet, Dessler said there is one item the report does not mention.
“One of the biggest issues with ERCOT is that they don’t acknowledge the existence of climate change,” he said. “It’s hard to be prepared for a problem when you can’t even say the words. That’s really a political issue that they are very cognizant of what the leaders in Austin want them to do. I think that’s to the detriment of the citizens of the State of Texas. If you run a power grid like ERCOT does, you have to be incorporating climate change and they just refuse to do it.”
ERCOT has said it expects to meet the high demand for power. So far, despite record temperatures, there have been no power conservation alerts issued.
KHOU and KENS contributed to this report.
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