Record-breaking cold leads to record-breaking energy use in Texas

In Texas, where freezing weather and ice storms came together in the first week of December 2013 to knock out electric power to about 200,000 homes and businesses, those that do have access to power are using a lot of it.

Texas' grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), is reporting that the power load in Texas December 6 hit a high of 51,484 MW, passing a record set two Decembers ago.

The next day, the record was broken again as power demand spike to 52,279 MW. Both times, the peak demand upon the grid arrived at about 7 p.m.

In all, ERCOT has observed three monthly power demand records in 2013.

According to ERCOT, power consumption in Texas is rising faster than energy companies can build new power plants, putting the region at risk of rolling blackouts.

ERCOT expects weather to warm up slowly, which should help to curb customer energy use. Peak cold weather times in Texas are usually in January through February. The normal peak electricity demand around that time is about 50 GW.

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