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ERCOT real-time prices hit quadruple digits as peakload nears record

Highlights

Load records may fall Monday, Tuesday

Day-ahead for Monday tops $220/MWh

Houston — As total power demand on the Electric Reliability Council of Texas grid approached its forecast peak near its all-time record on Friday, real-time prices surged into quadruple digits, which may happen again Monday when loads are forecast to top the all-time peak by about 2,000 MW.

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ERCOT last hit a peakload record, 73,259 MW, on July 29, but the grid operator forecast load to reach 75,271 MW at 5 pm Monday and again to 75,920 MW at the same hour Tuesday, as a heat wave continues to hit much of the Lone Star State with triple-digit high temperatures.

"Houston is running pretty hot today, but the real exictement in ERCOT is going to be Monday and Tuesday of next week," said Joshua Rhodes, a research associate at the University of Texas Energy Institute, in a tweet Friday afternoon. "The trifecta of Texas temperatures has arrived!"

High temperatures across the ERCOT footprint were forecast to be above seasonal norms of about 97 degrees Fahrenheit, in the low 100s Monday, according to CustomWeather data. The National Weather Service has called for temperatures in the low 100s across much of ERCOT over the next 14 days.

AN HOUR ABOVE $1,000/MWH

Before 9 am CDT Friday, ERCOT issued an Operating Condition Notice "for a projected reserve capacity shortage for hours ending" 2 pm through 6 pm, and asked for all market participants to update their current operating plans.

ERCOT's systemwide average real-time locational marginal price hit triple digits, $186.75/MWh, for the 15 minutes ending at 1:15 pm CDT, then topped $1,000 to reach $1,161.69/MWh for the 15 minutes that ended at 3 pm, and it stayed above $1,000/MWh until 4 pm, falling just below $400/MWh for the 15 minutes ending at 4:15 pm.

Adam Sinn, a power trader and owner of Houston-based Aspire Commodities, said in an email Friday: "Generators are taking outages, and those outages are causing the significantly higher prices."

On Thursday, ERCOT had forecast Friday's peakload to hit a record of 73,650 MW. By Friday morning, however, that forecast had been revised downward to less than 73,000 MW. ERCOT later revised that forecast upward to hit a record of 73,438 MW Friday, but that would have occurred after this article went to press.

"I would not be at all surprised if ERCOT prices were higher [Monday] than today's," said Neil McAndrews, an energy market consultant based in Austin, Texas.

ERCOT North Hub day-ahead on-peak power for delivery Monday was trading in the low $220s/MWh on Friday afternoon, up about $136 from the previous day-ahead package on the Intercontinental Exchange.

-- Mark Watson, markham.watson@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Gail Roberts, newsdesk@spglobal.com