With unusually cold temperatures finally forecast to recede from the state, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) on Thursday said it had set a record for winter peak demand of 57,282 MW between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m.

That was nearly 1,000 MW higher than the previous winter peak record, which was set just last Wednesday (Feb. 2), and was 1,400 MW higher than the 2010 record, ERCOT said.

ERCOT had forecast demand of nearly 60,000 MW and asked customers to reduce energy consumption early Thursday, saying there was "a higher risk of rotating outages in the Rio Grande Valley" due to transmission line limitations. But by Thursday afternoon, ERCOT said it was no longer calling on customers to reduce demand and had canceled the transmission watch for the Rio Grande Valley.

On Feb. 2 next-day ERCOT power prices dug deep into triple digits in the wake of a massive winter storm and ERCOT suffered the loss of more than 7,000 MW, with units tripping offline due to extreme cold temperatures (see Daily GPI, Feb. 3).

The Public Utility Commission of Texas has called for the ERCOT independent market monitor to investigate the causes of a level three emergency alert on Feb. 2 and power plant outages that followed (see Daily GPI, Feb. 8). Additionally, Texas Sen. Troy Fraser has called for hearings on the protocol for curtailing gas-fired power plants in the state, which relies heavily on gas for power generation. The natural gas industry, its customers, regulators and lawmakers in neighboring states have also been probing the causes of gas supply shortfalls during the exceptionally cold weather (see Daily GPI, Feb. 7).

Relatively warm air is expected to move into the area by early next week, with highs forecast to be in 60s and 70s from Arizona to Louisiana, according to Accuweather.com. There is even the potential for an 80-degree day in Dallas in the next week or two, Accuweather.com chief long range forecaster Joe Bastardi said.

The all-time peak demand for the ERCOT region is 65,776 MW, which occurred on Aug. 23, 2010.

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