Alberta energy regulator reports brief grid alert due to ‘unexpected generation loss’

By Lauryn Heintz

The Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) says an “unexpected generation loss” led to the declaration of a grid alert Wednesday evening.

The alert was sent out via social media at 8:12 p.m. and was ended a short time later at 8:55 p.m.

In a statement to CityNews AESO senior communications advisor Elizabeth Brouwers says the alert was prompted by several factors.

She explains Wednesday saw a high amount of renewable energy captured during the day, and forecasts for the coming days indicated much of the same. Because of this, some generating units were switched off as a cost-saving measure.

“While the reduction in wind and solar was forecasted, an unexpected outage of thermal generation led to tight conditions during the evening peak (generators can drop off for any number of reasons), which prompted the Grid Alert,” Brouwers added.

She says the alert was resolved with the support of imported power from neighbouring provinces.

During grid alerts, residents are typically asked take steps to conserve electricity, including turning off unnecessary lights and electrical appliances, minimizing the use of air conditioning and space heaters, and delaying the use of major power-consuming appliances like washers, dryers, and dishwashers until after peak hours.

AESO says on its website that grid alerts are issued when the power system is under stress and it is preparing to use emergency reserves to meet demand and system reliability.

The beginning of 2024 was plagued with grid alerts in Alberta due to extremely cold temperatures.

A January 15 alert even prompted the use of the province’s emergency alert system.

During that incident, Albertans were asked to reduce electricity usage to essential needs only to avoid rotating blackouts.

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith has used the province’s several grid alerts to push forward on her government’s opposition to federal clean energy regulations, which would restrict the use of natural gas power starting in 2035.

This included a far-reaching campaign that used slogans such as “No one wants blackouts in -30°C” and “No one wants to freeze in the dark.”

Smith said in a speech at Tuesday’s Small Modular Reactor Canada Summit the alerts have allowed the province to make the case for more baseload power, which could include nuclear in the future.

Alberta has long sparred with the feds over clean energy regulations, including the recently increased carbon tax.

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