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Texas grid says it should meet power need today

Electricity demand across the state was forecast to hit a new high Monday afternoon as the heat wave continues, but the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, while calling for consumers to control their use, also expects to have enough power to meet the need.

The opening of offices today is adding thousands of megawatts of electricity use to the demand seen over the weekend, which saw a record high temperature of 107 degrees in North Texas on Sunday.

ERCOT projects that around 5 p.m., the state could be using close more than 63,000 megawatts of electricity.

That would top the record of 62,339 megawatts, seen on Aug. 17, 2006, said spokeswoman Dottie Roark.

ERCOT, which manages most of the state's power transmission grid, today issued its "power watch," meaning demand will be high but manageable. Rain in the Houston area was expected to moderate demand there, helping overall.

"We are expecting high electricity demand today due to the heat advisory in effect for much of North Central and South Central Texas," Kent Saathoff, ERCOT vice president of system operations, said in a prepared release.

"We don't anticipate any electricity emergencies, but due to the effect of any unexpected generation outages, we will be monitoring the grid very closely."

Sunday's record high is expected to be followed by another scorcher today -- the 17th day at 100 degrees or more in the past 18.

The forecast calls for a high of around 106, but Tropical Storm Edouard could bring some slight relief later in the week. Edouard was headed for the Gulf Coast on Monday morning.

Sunday's temperature peaked at a record-setting 107 degrees just before 5 p.m., and the electricity temporarily went out for about 250 residents of Hurst. In addition, two more deaths were being investigated as heat-related.

Texas' huge wind power resources aren't contributing much to the electricity supply. As of mid-morning the state's thousands of wind turbines were only generating about 500 megawatts of electricity, about 10 percent of their total capacity.

That's a pattern commonly seen in Texas, as wind in West Texas declines with rising temperatures in the summer. But that's also anticipated by ERCOT, which on average assumes that only 8.7 percent of the state’s wind capacity will be available at any particular time.