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Texans asked to conserve electricity as heatwave hits with power plants offline

A view of high voltage transmission towers in Houston, Texas.
A view of high voltage transmission towers in Houston, Texas.Justin Sullivan/Photographer: Justin Sullivan/Ge

(Bloomberg) -- The operator of the Texas power grid is asking for customers to cut back on electricity use this week as a heatwave grips the region while multiple power plants are out of service.

Generating plants with a combined capacity of 11,000 megawatts -- enough to power about 2.2 million homes -- are down for repairs, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas said in a statement. Temperatures in Dallas are forecast to hit 98 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius) on Thursday. Houston could hit 95.

“We will be conducting a thorough analysis with generation owners to determine why so many units are out of service,” Woody Rickerson, Ercot’s vice president of grid planning and operations said in the statement. “This is unusual for this early in the summer season.”

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The plea for conservation comes four months after the much of the state was plunged into darkness when demand for electricity surged during a winter storm that paralyzed many power plants. More than 100 people died.

The generators out of service include one of the two units at the 2.3-gigawatt Comanche Peak nuclear plant near Dallas, which was taken offline over the weekend after a radiation monitor malfunctioned, according to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Spot power prices at Ercot’s North Hub, which includes Dallas, surged more than 500% to average $192.96 a megawatt-hour at 1:15 p.m. local time, according to data compiled by Wood Mackenzie.