Texas set another all-time record for electricity consumption Tuesday when demand in the blazing afternoon heat peaked at 67,929 megawatts from 4 to 5 p.m.
The record could be fleeting. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, operator of the state's major power grid, is projecting a record-busting 68,100 megawatts of demand today.
That would be the third consecutive record-smashing day, beginning with Monday's peak demand, 66,867 megawatts, which eclipsed a nearly year-old record.
Wednesday's high is forecast to be 110, three degrees hotter than the record for the date and the 33rd straight triple-digit day in North Texas. Tuesday's high was also 110 and Monday's was 107; both of those were also the hottest days ever for the date.
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And the rest of the week? Thursday, 109; Friday and Saturday, 107; Sunday, 106.
"Due to the high temperatures and high-electricity usage expected this week, we are continuing to request that consumers and businesses reduce their electricity use during peak hours from 3 to 7 p.m.," Kent Saathoff, ERCOT's vice president of system planning and operations, said in a statement issued late Tuesday.
On Tuesday afternoon, ERCOT was slightly below its preferred reserve generation margin of 2,300 megawatts -- that is, the excess generation capacity available in the event of a further surge in demand or outages involving some generation units.
Saathoff said wholesale electricity prices skyrocketed to "right at $3,000 per megawatt-hour" Tuesday, the highest allowed. Prices could be below $50 per megawatt-hour during low consumption, such as early morning.
Wind generation was about 1,500 megawatts during the peak demand Tuesday, compared with potential capacity of about 10,000 megawatts, Saathoff said. But ERCOT counts on only 800 megawatts of wind generation on hot summer afternoons, Saathoff said.
The wind in West Texas, where most large wind farms are, is typically low on summer afternoons.
Jack Z. Smith,