Texas power grid lowers demand forecast for Friday heat wave

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The Texas power grid operator lowered its demand projection for Friday on forecasts for slightly less hot weather.

Earlier in the day, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which operates most of the state’s grid, projected power use would reach its highest level so far in 2021 on Friday as homes and businesses crank up air conditioners to escape a lingering heat wave.

The United States has been beset by several extreme weather events this year, including February’s freeze in Texas that knocked out power to millions and this summer’s record heat in the Pacific Northwest.

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High temperatures in Dallas were expected to reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 Celsius) on Friday before easing to 93 F on Monday, according to AccuWeather. The city’s normal high is 97 F at this time of year.

ERCOT lowered it demand forecast for Friday to 72,343 megawatts (MW) from 73,260 MW earlier in the day.

That would fall short of the year’s current high of 72,856 MW set on Monday. One megawatt can power around 200 homes in the summer.

The extreme weather is a reminder to Texans of the February freeze when millions were left without power, water and heat for days during a deadly storm as ERCOT scrambled to prevent an uncontrolled collapse of the grid after an unusually large amount of generation shut down due to frozen natural gas pipes.

ERCOT said there was enough generation available to meet current demand and operating conditions were normal.

That reduced demand forecast helped keep power prices low. Real-time prices per megawatt hour (MWh) hovered around the $75 mark in mid-afternoon trade.

On-peak power at the ERCOT North hub , which includes Dallas, has averaged $204/MWh so far in 2021 due primarily to price spikes over $8,000 during the February freeze.

That compares with the 2020 average of $26/MWh.

(Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Edmund Blair and Paul Simao)