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Mexico’s heat wave strains energy grid with record demand

Soaring temperatures in Mexico are driving record electricity consumption that has prompted the country’s energy authority to issue a rare alert over grid capacity, as the government played down reports of blackouts.

With temperatures reaching above 45 Celsius (113 Fahrenheit) in parts of the country, the grid briefly entered a state of emergency, the National Center for Energy Control (Cenace) said late Tuesday, reaching an operating reserve margin of under 6%.

The last time it entered a state of emergency was during a cold spell in February 2021, Cenace said.

Daily demand reached a historical level last week of nearly 51,000 megawatts per hour, an executive at the national electricity federation (CFE) Jorge Musalem said on Twitter. On Wednesday, daily demand was projected to peak even higher at 51,782 megawatts per hour, according to Cenace data.

Electricity usage tends to surge amid high temperatures as the use of air conditioning increases.

Local media reported incidents of blackouts in 12 states over the last two weeks.

Meanwhile, neighboring Texas urged power conservation after the grid operator on Tuesday evening issued a warning for “projected reserve capacity shortage”.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador however dismissed energy concerns during a regular news conference on Wednesday, insisting that the alert from Cenace had been “routine.”

“There’s more consumption, but we don’t have any difficulties. There’s no problem,” he said. “It’s our responsibility that there aren’t blackouts.”

In Michoacan state, one town had been without electricity for several days, after an energy transmitter exploded.

The president said that this town was an exception and stressed that just eight people had died nationwide so far this year from the heat.

A spokesperson for the government added that energy supplies were normal across the country and said reports over blackout threats were simply fear mongering.

The CFE did not immediately reply to a request for comment. — Reuters

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