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Alberta sets all-time record for power consumption during extreme cold

Alberta's electric system continues to meet power demand across the province, despite the extreme cold. Silvia Naranjo reports.

By Silvia Naranjo

Extreme cold temperatures in Alberta have led to an all-time record for power consumption in the province, leaving many wondering if the electrical system can meet the power demand.

On Friday, the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) issued a grid alert due to two large natural gas generator outages.

Residents were asked to conserve electricity during peak consumption hours between 4 and 7 p.m. It ended just after 9 p.m., with the operator saying there were “no reliability concerns at this time.”

In addition, a Langdon resident on Thursday night who experienced a power outage emailed CityNews to say that they were in a complete blackout, saying they watched a key piece of electrical infrastructure explode, keeping them worried on the frosty night and hoping their homes didn’t freeze in the meantime.

ASEO manager of communications says Alberta’s electric system is challenged.

“Last night (Thursday), we set an all-time record for power consumption of 12,384 megawatts, which surpassed the previous all-time record which was set back in December of 2022 again when there was extreme cold,” said Leif Sollid, manager of communications with AESO

Sollid says despite additional challenges like a couple of generators that are offline, and getting very little wind and solar power on the grid, Alberta’s electricity system has more than 20,000 MW of install capacity which provides sufficient supply to meet the demand.

“You know over the peak period (Friday) between 4-7 p.m. you know things could we may end up having to use them back up reserves to keep to keep power going but at this point in time we’re confident that we will continue to operate as normal,” Sollid said.

Alberta’s Minister of Affordability and Utilities, Nathan Neudorf also says the province is well prepared.

“We do have a very good system and we are very thankful and lucky to have as much natural gas generation power as we do to let us through these times when weather incidents don’t allow other types of generators to generate to their full capacity,” he told CityNews.

“That’s why we stand up for Albertans and we should have Ottawa and the Federal Government there, realize the natural realities of living in a northern climate.”

Albertans continue to be advised to conserve electricity where they can, especially during the 4 to 7 p.m. period of time when it hits peak demand in time when people are coming back from work.

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