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ERCOT sets all-time demand record

Electricity demand on the grid operated by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas hit record levels Aug. 12 as temperatures in big load centers such as Houston, Dallas and Austin pushed above 100 degrees F.

Demand in the late afternoon reached 74,163 MW, surpassing the previous record of 73,473 MW set July 19, 2018, a spokesperson said.

"So far, we have sufficient generation to meet demand," spokesperson Leslie Sopko said.

Aug. 12 was the second day in a row that ERCOT set a demand record. On Aug. 11, the grid operator reported peak demand of 71,864 MW, a record for a weekend day.

The grid operator entered this summer projecting a record-low reserve margin — the difference between generation and forecast peak demand — of 8.6%, well below the 13.75% target margin. ERCOT said in May that the region is experiencing above-normal growth in electricity demand at an annual rate of 2.5% to 3% through 2022. Oil and gas development in the Permian Basin is helping drive the growth.

There were 3,101 MW of operating reserves in the region the afternoon of Aug. 12, and wind resources produced 7,416 MW, ERCOT said. The grid operator nonetheless said conditions were normal, with demand and generation capacity balanced.

Day-ahead forecasts predicted peak demand would surpass 75,000 MW on Aug. 13. According to weather.com, the high temperature in Austin for Aug. 13 is forecast at 105 degrees F, and Dallas and Houston are forecast at 102 degrees F.