A heat wave has baked Texas for two weeks, with triple-digit record temperatures being reported across large swaths of the state nearly every day. Temperatures, however, aren't the only thing setting records in the Lone Star State.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which manages about 90% of the state's power grid, reported "unofficial" monthly and all-time records for electricity demand were hit Tuesday as air conditioners whir seemingly around the clock while Texans try to beat the heat.
Breaking the peak demand records
According to ERCOT, the previous June record for power demand was last year, when 76,681 megawatts were used on June 23. On Tuesday, however, that record was broken when usage peaked at 80,828 megawatts of electricity.
Not only does this figure break the June record, but it also breaks the all-time peak demand record on the ERCOT power grid. That record was previously set on July 20, 2022, with 80,148 megawatts used in one day. That means the record was broken about three weeks earlier than when the last all-time record was set.
According to ERCOT, however, the measurement from Tuesday is preliminary, making the record-breaking statistic unofficial.
"Official demand records are NOT confirmed until settlements/data has been finalized which can take several days," a spokesperson for ERCOT said.
Strain on the power grid
In the spring, ERCOT and the Public Utility Commission of Texas warned people about a shortage of "dispatchable energy," or power that can be brought online with short notice, in "extreme summer conditions."
"Data shows for the first time that the peak demand for electricity this summer will exceed the amount we can generate from on-demand dispatchable power," said former PUC chairman Peter Lake.
The utility companies in Texas are no strangers to having their systems pushed to the limit by extreme weather.
In 2021, a winter storm crippled the state's grid, leaving millions of Texans without electricity for days during some of the coldest temperatures in a decade.