(Reuters) - The Texas power grid operator said demand for electricity hit an all-time record as consumers cranked up air conditioners to escape a brutal heat wave on Wednesday, breaking the previous record set four years ago.
Demand reached 68,459 megawatts, topping the previous record of 68,305 MW, set on Aug. 3, 2011 during an extended period of record high temperatures.
One MW is enough to power about 200 homes during periods of peak demand, said the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT),the grid operator for most of the state.
"With temperatures expected to continue to rise Thursday and Friday, we likely will see even higher demand the remainder of the week," ERCOT Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Brad Jones said.
Temperatures in Houston, the biggest city in Texas, hit 98 degrees Fahrenheit (37 Celsius) on Wednesday and were expected to hit or exceed 100 degrees every day through Aug. 15, according to weather forecaster AccuWeather.com.
ERCOT will monitor system conditions to determine whether to put into effect voluntary conservation measures "to maintain overall reliability and protect the grid," he said.
There are more than 73,000 MW of generation in the grid, according to the ERCOT website. ERCOT said wind generation contributed about 2,500 MW during Wednesday's peak.
Some of the biggest power companies in Texas include units of Energy Future Holdings, CenterPoint Energy Inc, American Electric Power Co Inc, NRG Energy Inc, Exelon Corp and NextEra Energy Inc.
(Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)