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Texas Power Grid Withstands Strain of Blistering Heat Wave

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(Bloomberg) -- The Texas grid avoided blackouts Monday despite a searing heat wave that depleted electric supplies in America’s second-most populous state.

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The Electric Reliability Council of Texas on Monday lifted the call for conservation that it made because of a potential power shortage. The council manages the flow of electricity to more than 26 million customers.

While electrical use hit an unofficial record of 78.3 gigawatts, it came in below earlier estimates, an Ercot spokeswoman said. Residents and businesses appeared to heed the state’s request to limit power use, giving the grid enough of a cushion to avoid more drastic measures.

Power grids around the globe are facing severe tests this summer as climate change drives temperatures to record highs and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine strains fuel supplies. In the US, officials have warned that a vast swath of the nation, from the Great Lakes to the West Coast, is at risk of blackouts. Texas already set at least six records for power demand this year.

Heat will continue to blanket Texas on Tuesday, with Dallas and Fort Worth forecast to hit 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius), according to the National Weather Service. The cities likely will see highs above 100 degrees through Thursday. US natural gas futures rose for a second day as the heat wave drove up demand for air conditioning and consumption of the fuel for power plants.

Cryptocurrency miners were among those that answered the call to conserve Monday. Almost all of the major mining operators had scaled back operations, allowing about 1 gigawatt of capacity to flow back to the grid, according to the Texas Blockchain Council. Crypto mining has taken off in Texas in the past year, leading to concerns that the power-intensive operations would tax the state’s energy systems. A gigawatt is enough to power about 200,000 Texas homes.

Texas’s power grid remains under scrutiny more than a year after the system collapsed during a winter storm, leaving much of the state without power for days. More than 240 people died, and the true economic costs topped $50 billion. Officials enacted a raft of reforms following the crisis, but critics warn the system remains vulnerable.

(Updates with Ercot details, US natural gas futures beginning in second paragraph. A previous version of this story corrected the name of trade organization in sixth paragraph.)

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