As of August 11, Texas broke ten power use records this summer.
This summer has been brutal in Texas, with some regions seeing more than 30 straight days of triple-digit temperatures.
Renewable energy has kept the power grid “remarkably stable” despite the significant strain, an expert says.
Texas leads the nation in wind-generated power and is third in the country for solar power.
The heat is inescapable in the Lone Star state this summer.
Austin has hit triple-digit temperatures for 34 days straight. El Paso, meanwhile, has seen 56 triple-digit days this summer, the third-highest frequency in the state’s history.
As these extreme temperatures continue to bake Texas, residents are cranking up their air conditioning, straining the state’s power grid. As of August 12, Texas has broken 10 all-time peak power demand records this year, according to data from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, an organization that operates 90% of the state’s electric load.
“The grid has held up remarkably well,” Emily Foxhall, an energy reporter for the Texas Tribune, told CBS.
That resilience is thanks to the state’s reliance on renewable energy, Foxhall added.
Texas produces more wind-powered electricity than any other state and is a national leader in solar energy alongside California and Florida. Texas is also third in the nation for clean energy job growth, adding 5,100 jobs in 2022.
Joshua Rhodes, a research scientist with the Webber Energy Group at the University of Texas, told Insider that solar power has proven especially key this summer.
“We have twice as much solar as we had last year, and so the same sun that’s heating up all the buildings and driving the air conditioning use is making electricity,” Rhodes told Insider. “Not only are we setting demand records, but we’re also setting solar demand records simultaneously.”
On August 10, wind and solar energy generated 24.69% of the needed energy during the state’s peak hour of power usage, data from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas shows.
“With the growing penetration of new, variable renewables displacing conventional dispatchable generation for power, we’ll need to rely more on renewables during peak conditions than we ever have before,” a spokesperson for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas told Insider.
Some state and national Republicans, however, have pushed back against legislation that would further strengthen the clean energy sources keeping the air conditioners running in Texas this summer.
One such law includes the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act, which in part set aside $370 billion for investment in clean energy, primarily benefiting Texas and other states with existing clean energy infrastructure. In particular, the act makes it less expensive to install solar panels and incentivizes the purchase of energy-efficient appliances, which could help alleviate pressure on the Texas power grid.