Texas watches power grid as energy use, temps spike

Southwest

(NewsNation) — The hottest days of summer are critical for power grids.

As Americans across the nation crank up their air conditioning in homes and businesses, the burden on the grid becomes significant.

In Texas, the combined load from millions of air conditioners is causing electricity use to reach a new all-time high.

It’s 100 degrees in Dallas and the city has already broken power demand records — and it’s only June.

Most of the state exceeded triple-digit temperatures over the weekend. The National Weather Service issued a heat advisory for all but eight of the state’s 254 counties.

“When you see that string of 100 degrees in the forecast, it does give you pause,” said Matt Mitchell, spokesman for Austin Energy.

The weekend’s energy demand surpassed 75 gigawatts, scorching the former record from August of 2019.

“Our grid was resilient and able to handle that demand,” Mitchell said. “And that gives us confidence that we will continue to be able to meet that demand without significant disruption for the rest of the summer.”

This usage is unusual for two reasons: One, it’s only June and higher temps will continue through the summer. And two, demand is usually lower on the weekend because big office buildings are empty.

Despite the demand and early heat wave, the governing power grid agency ERCOT has not asked Texans to cut back on their use of power this month and no electrical outages were reported but it could be on the horizon.

In the wake of 2021’s February blackout, when the state’s power grid went into almost total failure —resulting in nearly 250 deaths and leaving millions in the dark — Texans have a weather awareness and anxiety never before felt.

“They are absolutely more alert. And they’re finding different ways to get sources of information for them and their families at home so they are prepared ahead of a potential event,” said Sean Kelly, meteorologist with NewsNation affiliate KXAN in Austin.

As forecasters say more than 100 million Americans are under some type of heat warning, there doesn’t appear to be any immediate relief in sight.

The National Weather Service issued a warning for people to stay indoors and drink plenty of fluids as a large swath of the nation, stretching from central Nebraska to West Virginia, north into Wisconsin and south into Mississippi, will see the heat index rise until midweek.

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