As we head into spring, warmer temperatures are being welcomed in many parts of the U.S. By the time summer rolls around, however, large swaths of the country may be cursing the rising mercury, according to WeatherBug’s forecast for this summer.
WeatherBug, which is owned by Earth Networks, is forecasting a summer similar to 2012, which was the third-hottest summer on record. Temperatures will be particularly high in the Great Plains region into the Rockies, and in Western Texas and parts of the Southeast.
Sweltering weather brings rising demand for electricity. Demand response could be dispatched in record levels if the mercury rises as much as it is expected to in 2013, thanks to changes in the rules (like FERC Order 745 and ERCOT's changes to the DR it wants from smaller players). Every year, demand response seems to hit new heights, but as last summer showed, there are still a lot of megawatts that could be curbed with the right programs.
Some utilities in particular, like Oklahoma Gas & Electric, which has hundreds of thousands of homes enrolled in its demand response program, are poised to get through the peaks without rolling blackouts by leveraging not just businesses but residents too.
Bringing homes into new programs, whether peak rebate or time-of-use pricing, will be increasingly important if above-average temps become the new norm. Data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration showed that it is mostly homes, not businesses, which drive peak demand in the summer. Most demand response programs, however, focus on large C&I loads.
But that is starting to change. Even though most of the East Cost is meant to see average temperatures, there are some utilities in the region, including Baltimore Gas & Electric, which will roll out new peak-time rebate programs this summer.
Texas is one area to keep a particularly close eye on. WeatherBug expects Houston to be near average, but other parts of Texas could be warmer than usual. Last summer, Texas’ grid operator, ERCOT, had some capacity issues, and it has made plans to tap more megawatts from small commercial and residential customers.
“After examining all available data, we expect to see a summer that is somewhat similar to 2012. But one of the biggest stories weather-wise that we will be watching is the drought across Texas into the Southern Rockies,” Senior Meteorologist James Aman of the WeatherBug Meteorology team said in a statement. “When you factor in extreme weather, including severe storms with lightning and tornadoes that are already making their appearance across the country, we will likely be in for an interesting season.”
Some areas might not even have to wait until the official start of summer. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that the odds favor an above-average spring for must of the continental U.S., including Texas.
Earth Networks is not just anticipating peak temperatures, but is also in the business of trying to relieve it. Last year, the company released its energy management app, which can be used for demand response, and it is working with Texas utility CenterPoint.