HOUSTON — On Monday, there was a spike in demand for electricity throughout much of Texas, causing a high spike in the state’s wholesale energy prices.
ERCOT’s website showed that at its peak, the statewide average was $1,664.18 per megawatt hour. Most of Greater Houston’s was much higher.
ERCOT’s color-coded wholesale energy maps arrange real-time wholesale energy prices by shortage. Red means high demand and high prices. Blue and purple mean low demand and low or even negative prices. Colors like green and yellow represent more stable and typical pricing ranging from $30 to $120.
One snapshot from about 7:30 p.m. showed most of Texas was in green or yellow, however, for several hours during the day, prices soared into the hundreds and even thousands per megawatt hour.
KHOU 11 News energy expert Ed Hirs
“We’ve been spending big money to have electricity that ordinarily would be $40, $50, $70 a megawatt hour,” Hirs said. “We are seeing prices well above $300, 400, $500.”
It’s not just the prices that are impacted by high demand, but electricity, too. If supply can’t keep up with demand, that’s when we see rolling blackouts.
On Monday, while Greater Houston saw a jump in demand, Calhoun County, not too far from Harris County, was showing a surplus of energy with prices in the negative.
“Typically that happens when there’s a generator that’s pouring extra electricity into the grid that really doesn’t have a place to go,” Hirs said.
Hirs said that even with a surplus in electricity in Calhoun County, Harris and surrounding counties can’t share that electricity.
“ERCOT doesn’t have a way of transmitting it over to Houston, say, where we really need it,” he said.
Hirs said it magnifies a problem with the state’s power grid that is already under scrutiny for 2021’s deadly winter storm.
ERCOT manages more than 52,000 miles of transmission lines statewide. Last year, following the winter storm, in a letter to lawmakers, ERCOT said it’s looking into the costs and benefits of increased transmission.
“We need more generation plants, and we need more transmission,” Hirs said. “And we needed it yesterday.”
Most people won’t see an immediate spike in their prices due to fixed rates, however, Hirs said eventually those prices will be passed on to the consumer.
To track ERCOT’s wholesale energy prices, click here.