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Blistering Texas Sun is Also Part of Producing the State’s Energy

Texas has broken hourly records, again and again, this summer by using air conditioning during the heat wave. The sun, however, is also a key part of keeping the energy grid stable in peak hours.

Highs reach record territory early this week. Temperatures may reach between 105 and 112 degrees across North Texas. An Excessive Heat Warning is in effect from 1 p.m. until 8 p.m. Monday and an Air Quality Alert is in effect for the Dallas-Fort Worth metro.

Half of the state’s energy demand on days like Monday comes from homes and businesses using air conditioners according to Texas A&M professor Le Xie.

Xie monitors ERCOT and the energy grid in his role as associated director of the Texas A&M Energy Institute.

“It’s doing a balancing of supply and demand, just in real time, split second by split second,” Xie said.

He tells NBC 5 historically summer heat brings peak energy usage. A fringe case was the dramatic rise in the 2021 fatal winter storm when the grid failed.

Just more than half of the state’s power comes from natural gas. However, recently Texas has built up a more diverse supply.

As the summer continues, much of the energy during the day is generated by solar power. According to ERCOT data, Monday around 15 percent of the supply came from the sun. At night, a good chunk of it comes from wind power.

“As the saying goes, you don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket right? So from the reliability point of view, it helps when you have more diverse sources of supply.”

Earlier in the summer the Public Utility Commission announced at a May press conference the state could not keep up with the growing population without wind and solar power.

“We will be relying on renewables to keep the lights on,” said fmr. Commissioner Peter Lake.

So despite 12 hourly demand records being broken since June 26, the power grid has had enough supply. The all-time record was on July 18 at more than 82,000 megawatts for an hour according to the United States Energy Information Administration. ERCOT issued a “weather watch” that day warning the weather may impact the demand for power available.

This week, ERCOT has not issued a watch.

So Antonio Lopez says he will have his air conditioner on around 68 or 69 degrees after he gets back from his run on the Katy Trail.

“I don’t want to pay too much so I keep it around that. I prefer it to be a bit more chilly but I keep it at that so the bill doesn’t go too high up,” Lopez said.

Professor Xie and energy leaders ask consumers to take basic steps to conserve energy as the hot summer rolls on.

ERCOT issued a Voluntary Conservation Notice on June 20, asking consumers to cut back on energy usage, after reaching several record days in a row. It was the first one of the summer. ERCOT has not issued a Voluntary Conservation Notice since then.

According to ERCTO data, the sector using the most energy is the North Central sector – which includes Dallas-Fort Worth. The Coast sector – including Houston – consistently has the second-highest use of energy.

Source : NBC DFW