Hot Summer Could Strain Texas Power Grid

What most of the country calls a heatwave Texas calls summer.  As hot temperatures prompt increased power demand in places like New York City and along the eastern seaboard, Texas is keeping an eye on its own power grid.  The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) predicted record demand for this summer, and that has proven accurate so far.  "ERCOT is expecting peak usage this summer, however we do believe there will be sufficient (power) generation to meet that demand," says Leslie Sopko, ERCOT spokeswoman.  "We have already seen some high demand between May and July, and we have set new monthly peak demand records in each of the last three months."

The early heat Texas saw this year in May and June contributed to the higher-than-average demand, but with the hottest months of July and August still ahead, the worst is far from over.  "ERCOT, which is the grid operator, has the option to bring on more generating assets," says Karl Trollinger with Texas Electricity Ratings.  "The worst-case scenario is when we get to August and we're hitting super peaks, that they may have to do blackouts."

There has been some good news recently, though.  After the excessive heat and dry conditions of May and June, early July has seen a rainy pattern across Southeast Texas that has replenished precipitation totals and, just as importantly, cooled down temperatures.  "That's really the key driver, is the amount of rain we get," says Trollinger.  "That keeps things cool, keeps usage down, and doesn't stress the grid."

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