The Electric Reliability Council of Texas forecast power supply to barely exceed demand by around 8 pm CT July 18, after real-time power prices hit quadruple digits for almost two hours on a hot July 17.
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As of about 11:30 am CT, ERCOT forecast load to peak at 79.5 GW, well above the 78.4 GW all-time record set July 12, which was the eighth record set so far in 2022. The forecast also calls for peakloads above the existing record on July 19, 20, and 25.
The National Weather Service issued heat advisories, excessive heat warnings, and excessive heat watches July 18 for more than half the state, with highs reaching 110 degrees Fahrenheit in Dallas-Fort Worth, 105 F in Austin, and 103 F in San Antonio. The hottest day of the week for the state in the July 18 forecast is for July 20, with triple digits in all four major metro areas in ERCOT: Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio.
Natural gas-fired power generators are bracing for a mid-week spike in demand. Platts Analytics forecast power burn demand in Texas to top 7.4 Bcf/d July 20 and hold at more than 7.3 Bcf/d July 21. So far this month, generator gas demand in Texas has averaged 7.2 Bcf/d to trend at its high July average on record, Platts Analytics data shows.
Spot gas prices in the East Texas market surged about 80 cents from prior-day settlements July 18 to trade around $7.15/MMBtu at Katy Hub and $7.10/MMBtu at Houston Ship Channel, reaching their highest prices since mid-June, according to Platts data.
Tight supply forecast
As of about 1 pm CT, ERCOT showed generators' current operating plans producing 77,321 MW around 8 pm, as solar output diminishes, while load would remain strong at 77,146 MW. ERCOT generally considers any reserves totaling less than 3,000 MW an emergency condition, but as of 2 pm CT, the grid operator had issued no requests for conservation.
"ERCOT continues to monitor conditions closely and will deploy all available tools to manage the grid reliably," ERCOT spokeswoman Trudi Webster said July 18. "ERCOT coordinates closely with the Public Utility Commission as well as generation resource owners and transmission utilities to ensure that they are prepared. We ask for voluntary conservation only if we feel it is absolutely necessary."
That narrow gap would also represent the week's forecast high for "net load," at 65.6 GW, which equals total power demand minus intermittent renewable output and, in effect, represents the total supply that must be provided by thermal resources.
ERCOT did issue an operating condition notice "for the extreme hot weather, with forecasted temperatures to be above 103 F in the North Central and South Central weather zones," from July 18 through July 24.
The second-highest daily net load peak would occur around 8 pm July 20, at 63.7 GW.
Between 5:15 pm and 7 pm CT July 17, ERCOT systemwide hub real-time locational marginal prices stayed in quadruple digits, averaging about $1,795/MWh, from a low of $1,021.84/MWh to a high of $2,648.98/MWh. ERCOT's load peaked at almost 75.3 GW July 17, which would have been a record before this summer.
ERCOT North Hub day-ahead on-peak power rose about $7 to trade at $199/MWh on the Intercontinental Exchange July 18 for July 19 delivery. Near-term prices in the near term varied, as the balance-of-week on-peak July 20-22 package dropped $30 to $210.50/MWh, while the next week peak July 25-29 strip rose $5 to trade near $357.25/MWh.