US Central states, Texas break power use records again in heat wave

(Reuters) - Power use in Texas and other central states hit all-time highs Tuesday and could break that record again in Texas on Wednesday as homes and businesses crank up air conditioners to escape a brutal heat wave blanketing most of the country.

Electric grid operators across the country said they have enough resources to meet soaring demand and only took small steps, like asking utilities to postpone maintenance on power lines and generating plants, to maintain system reliability.

In addition, some utilities and energy service providers asked consumers to conserve energy and activated demand response programs that compensate homes and businesses to reduce usage.

The United States is expected to use record amounts of power in 2022 due mostly to rising economic and population growth in Sun Belt states covered by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) and utilities in the Southeast.

AccuWeather forecast temperatures in Houston, the biggest city in Texas, will reach 100 Fahrenheit (37.8 Celsius) on Wednesday. That compares with a normal high of 94 F for this time of year.

ERCOT, which operates the grid for more than 26 million customers representing about 90% of the state's power load, said demand was on track to break records for a third day in a row on Wednesday.

Usage in ERCOT hit a preliminary 79,039 megawatts (MW) on Monday, 79,621 MW on Tuesday and was expected to reach 81,247 MW on Wednesday.

SPP, which operates the grid for almost 18 million people in 17 states from North Dakota to Texas, said power use hit a preliminary 53,121 MW on Tuesday, breaking the current record of 52,028 MW on Monday.

One megawatt can power around 1,000 U.S. homes on a typical day, but only about 200 homes on a hot summer day. Graphic: Texas power demand to soar to record high this year Texas power demand to soar to record high this year,

(Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)