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Texas breaks power demand record during June heat wave

A lifeguard watches people at a public pool in Austin in summer 2020.
Allie Goulding
The Texas Tribune
A lifeguard watches people at a public pool in Austin in summer 2020.

The state’s grid operator was able to maintain supply without needing to call for any conservation.

A heat wave caused electricity use in Texas to reach an all-time high on Sunday, but the state’s power grid appeared to hold up without major disruption.

Power demand surpassed 75 gigawatts at around 5:15 p.m., surpassing the previous record of 74.8 gigawatts in August 2019. Still, the state’s capacity remained well above that, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.

The massive demand was unusual for two reasons. First, it came in June, which tends to be slightly less hot than the state’s warmest late-summer months. It also came on the weekend, when electricity demand tends to be slightly lower as many office buildings are empty.

But the weekend has been extremely hot even by Texas standards, with much of the state over 100 degrees. On Sunday afternoon, the National Weather Service had issued a heat advisory for all but eight of the state’s 254 counties. Many counties were under an excessive heat warning, which means the heat index was expected to be over 105 degrees for at least two hours.

Texans have anxiously watched the state’s ability to ensure power supply ever since a winter storm incited massive and prolonged blackouts in the state caused more than 200 deaths.

In May, ERCOT asked Texans to conserve power during a heat wave that coincided with some power plant outages. No such conservation request has been necessary this weekend.