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Texas Heat Wave Sends Power Grid Into Overtime

The heat wave hitting Texas and much of the southern U.S. caused Texans’ demand for power to hit an all-time high on Monday as temperatures appeared set to go higher.

Demand for electricity hit 74,531 megawatts at 5 p.m. Monday afternoon, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), reported Reuters. ERCOT is the grid operator that covers most of Texas.

People were cranking up the air conditioning to keep cool Monday, when temperatures hit 100 degrees Fahrenheit in Houston but felt as high as 113 degrees Fahrenheit because of humidity, according to Reuters. The temperature normally spikes at 96 degrees Fahrenheit in that area during this time of year.

The state’s previous record for power demand was 73,473 megawatts on July 19, 2018. ERCOT said demand could approach 75,000 megawatts Tuesday. The operator has a generating capacity of more than 78,000 megawatts, according to Reuters. ERCOT asked customers to conserve energy in an email Sunday, reported The Abilene Reporter News.

A single megawatt can power about 1,000 U.S. homes on average, according to Reuters.

The record-setting power demand comes as portions of 13 states were under heat advisories, from Louisiana to Illinois, the National Weather Service said according to The Associated Press on Tuesday. Temperatures peaked at 121 degrees in Clarksdale, Mississippi, on Monday afternoon.

The extremely hot summer has prompted unusual responses from members of government. For example, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered tall buildings to adjust their thermostats to 78 degrees as the city prepared for a weekend heat wave in June.

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