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ERCOT sets April peak demand record, real-time prices spike into $300s/MWh at same time

Highlights

April peak demand record rises 3.2% to 55,180 MW

Real-time prices spiked above $325/MWh at 5:45 pm CT

Dallas/Fort Worth sets record for highest minimum temperature

Houston — Peak power demand in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas set a record for the month of April at 55,180 MW between 5 pm and 6 pm CT Wednesday, surpassing a three-year-old record by 3.2%, according to the grid operator.

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Wednesday's peak broke the previous record of 53,486 MW set on April 28, 2017 between 4 pm and 5 pm, ERCOT spokeswoman Leslie Sopko said. That said, the record was 11% shy of the 55,800 MW forecast for the day.

"We cannot speculate on what may happen the rest of the season," Sopko said. "[Wednesday's] peak was due to higher-than-normal temperatures resulting in higher electric demand on the system. Temperatures were 10 to 15 degrees [Fahrenheit] above normal in many parts of the ERCOT region."

Temperatures in the Dallas/Fort Worth region spiked to 97 F, jumping 9 degrees day on day and setting a record for the highest April 8 temperature there, breaking the previous record of 93 F set in 1991, according to the US National Weather Service. Likewise, the low temperature of 71 degrees set a record for the highest minimum temperature on April 8, surpassing the previous record of 70 set in 2001, according to the weather service. Other major cities across the state saw temperatures jump as much as 7 degrees day on day.

Real-time prices across the ERCOT footprint spiked above $325/MWh for the 15-minute interval ending 5:45 pm CT, according to ERCOT data. Real-time prices began to spike above $100/MWh shortly after 4 pm CT, an remained there until around 7 pm CT.

The ERCOT North Hub on-peak day-ahead locational marginal price jumped more than $64 day on day to $94.09/MWh for Wednesday delivery, according to ERCOT data, the highest April price since at least 2010.

At the time the new April load record was set, natural gas-fired generation accounted for 56% of the total fuel mix, followed by coal-fired generation at 22%, wind power at 11%, nuclear at 7% and solar at 4%, according to preliminary operating data.

In contrast, weekly energy use has decreased by 2% based on data from the previous two weeks, according to ERCOT's latest novel coronavirus load impact analysis.

ERCOT's all-time peak demand record is 74,531 MW, which was set August 12, 2019.