Texas Set New Winter Record for Electricity Consumption Last Week

Last week's cold snap almost pushed the state's electric generating capacity to the breaking point, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

Energy analyst David Werley says the load levels during the cold snap broke the previous wintertime record.

"Monday, ERCOT (The Electric Reliability Council of Texas) beat the previous peak that had been set in 2014 for winter weather by 4,000 megawatts, which is really considering being blown out of the water," Werley said. "Then the next day, Tuesday, we beat that record by anotehr 3,000 megawatts, so we went up by 7,000 megawatts for a winter peak.

One megawatt is roughly the amount of money needed to power 1,000 homes.

Werley says this is the time of year when generating facilities usually perform the needed annual maintenance, because the need for electricity is usually reduced.

"Luckily, the forecasting is so good these days, so ERCOT asked the generators to hold off most of that maintenance," he said.

Werley says winter peak electricity generation in Texas is coming close to matching the summer peak. There are a number of reasons for that, including more all-electric furnaces in use, the 24 hour work cycle, which means facilities which would otherwise shut down overnight are remaining open and using electricity, and the exponential growth in power needs from cloud computing farms and other tech facilities.

The 'Great Brownout' of February of 2011 in San Antonio occurred because a surprise cold snap hit at a time when the generating capacity was down for the maintenance, leaving hundreds of thousands of people in the dark.

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