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Texas breaks June energy use record

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Posted: Wednesday, June 27, 2012 12:00 pm

By Rose L. Thayer

Killeen Daily Herald

Texas broke its energy use record for June on Tuesday, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, and more triple-digit heat is on tap this week.

As predicted, the summer's first heat wave put the state's energy grid to the test, both Monday and Tuesday.

Electric use during the 4 to 5 p.m. hour Monday averaged out at 65,047 megawatts. Tuesday's official numbers peaked at 66,583, said Kent Saathoff, vice president of Grid Operations and system planning for ERCOT.

"Our peak demand for June - that we'll probably be setting today - exceeds what we had last June," he said. "The key is how many more days like this will we have, which creates more stress on generating units."

The previous record for June was 63,102 megawatts, which occurred on June 17, 2011. ERCOT's all-time peak demand record occurred on Aug. 3, 2011, when electric use in the ERCOT region topped out at 68,379 megawatts.

One megawatt is enough to power about 200 homes during peak demand periods, which are typically hot summer days like this one.

In Killeen, Tuesday's high temperature was 106 degrees. It was the third day the city has experienced temperatures at or above the century mark this year, according to the National Weather Service in Fort Worth.

"It looks like we'll probably have at least two more 100-degree days as we head toward the weekend," said Steve Fano, a meteorologist with the service. By Saturday, he said, temperatures should drop to the upper 90s.

Looking back to last summer's record-breaking weather, Killeen had already seen eight days at or above 100 degrees by the end of June.

The state went on to experience more than 90 days of excessive heat, during which, Saathoff said, the system never became overloaded and rolling blackouts were avoided.

"We did pretty well last summer operationally," he said. "The main thing we learned last summer is that it really helps to keep all of y'all informed on what's going on. We certainly intend to continue that this summer."

He credited Texans for listening to ERCOT's appeals to reduce energy use, especially during peak hours, in making this happen.

When comparing last summer's load forecast and actual weather, the daily load forecast was predicted at about 1,500 more megawatts than what was actually used.

"We were prepared for last summer and that was evident," he said. "We'll continue to do the same thing this summer."

Contact Rose L. Thayer at rthayer@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHreporter.

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