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Texas power demand breaks record again in heat wave, prices spike

The Texas power grid operator said electric demand hit an all-time peak for a second day in a row on Thursday as consumers cranked up their air conditioners to escape a brutal heat wave, and power prices rose to an 18-month high.

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The Texas power grid operator said electric demand hit an all-time peak for a second day in a row on Thursday as consumers cranked up their air conditioners to escape a brutal heat wave, and power prices rose to an 18-month high.

Next-day power prices at the Ercot North hub <SE-ERCONP-IDX> on the IntercontinentalExchange jumped to $175 per megawatt hour for Friday, the most since February 2014.

Demand reached a record 68,912 megawatts (MW) on Thursday, topping the 68,459 MW peak set on Wednesday, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the grid operator for most of the state, said in a statement.

Before this week, the grid's previous peak demand was 68,305 MW set on Aug. 3, 2011 during an extended period of record high temperatures. One MW is enough to power about 200 homes during periods of peak demand.

"We're expecting demand to remain at very high levels as temperatures stay said Dan Woodfin, ERCOT director of system operations.

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Temperatures in Houston, the biggest city in Texas, reached 98 degrees Fahrenheit (38 Celsius) on Wednesday and Thursday and were expected to top 100 degrees on Friday and every day through Aug. 15, according to weather forecaster AccuWeather.com.

"ERCOT will continue to monitor system conditions closely to ensure we are prepared to maintain overall reliability and protect the grid," Woodfin said.

There are more than 73,000 MW of generation in the grid, according to the ERCOT website. ERCOT said wind generation contributed about 3,400 MW during Thursday's peak.

Some of the biggest power companies in Texas include units of Energy Future Holdings, CenterPoint Energy Inc, American Electric Power Co Inc, NRG Energy Inc, Exelon Corp and NextEra Energy Inc. 

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