Texas power users are breaking records, and could break more by the end of the summer

Photo: Houston Chronicle
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Warren Lasher, ERCOT's director of system planning looks out over the control room.
Photo: ERCOT
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An ERCOT worker mans a desk in the Texas electric grid manager's Austin control room.
Photo: Houston Chronicle
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A man monitors information in the ERCOT control center in Taylor, Texas. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas operates much of the state'select
Photo: Houston Chronicle
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ERCOT's Austin control center is shown in a panoramaphotograph during ERCOT's "media day" May 28, 2013.
Photo: Houston Chronicle
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A man monitors information in the ERCOT control center in Taylor, Texas. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas operates much of the state'select

Three days of record-breaking electricity demand by Texas consumers extended into a fourth on Thursday as power use reached a level not seen in the state in four years, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.

Power demand reached 67,624 megawatts Thursday afternoon, the most this week after consumers began ramping up their use on Monday. Those usage levels pushed up against the all-time record in Texas, set on Aug. 3, 2011, when demand peaked at 68,305 megawatts.

A heat wave across Texas is pushing up power use. Every major Texas city this week has felt triple digit temperatues, with Houston experiencing its first 100 degree-days in two years. Much of the country has also been subject to excessive heat advisories.

“Although we are still not seeing temperatures as high as 2011, lack of rain during the past several weeks has resulted in drier ground and temperatures reaching their highest levels thus far this summer,” Chris Coleman, an ERCOT meteorologist, said in a release. “We have seen triple digits in several cities this week, including Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Austin.”

On Wednesday, ERCOT asked Texas consumers to reduce their power use to reduce the chance of outages, though ERCOT Chief Operating Officer Brad Jones said in the release that the electric grid has been able to provide capacity as high as 71,000 megawatts.

The release noted that ERCOT expects more record-breaking demand for electricity throughout the summer.

“As the Texas economy continues to thrive, ERCOT serves some of the fastest-growing cities in the country,” Jones said in the release. “Population and business growth continue to drive up electric use.”

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ERCOT technically isnt a government organization. Its a nonprofit corporation with oversight by the state legislature and the Public Utility Co
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ERCOTs transmission grid is located entirely within Texas. Because it doesnt cross state borders, its not subject to the same federal regu
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ERCOT has ordered rolling blackouts -- when demand for power overwhelms the grid -- three time in its history: February 2011, April 2006 and Decemb
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ERCOT manages the flow of power through more than 43,000 miles of transmission lines in Texas. Thats enough to stretch from Houston to New Y
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ERCOTs origins date to World War II, when Texas electric utilities joined forces to send excess power generation to industrial manufacturers on the
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The ERCOT region covers most of Texas -- but not all of it. The western tip of Texas, the Panhandle, and parts of East Texas a
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ERCOTs all-time record peak demand for power of 68,305 megawatts occurred on Aug. 3, 2011, when the heat index in Houston topped 105 degrees
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Natural gas is the leading fuel source within ERCOT. It provided 40.5 percent of the power used to produce electricity last year.