Cold weather + high power demand = Alberta generating records

CALGARY, ALBERTA–(Marketwired – Nov. 21, 2013) – For the second time this week, Alberta’s demand for electricity reached an all-time high of 10,677 megawatts (MW) at 6 p.m. yesterday.

“Winter is typically the time of year when we see the highest demand on Alberta’s power system,” says Mike Law, Vice President Operations for the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO). “A prolonged cold front, reduced daylight hours and overall growing demand are all factors that combine to create the record electricity consumption levels we are presently experiencing.”

On a typical winter day in Alberta, demand fluctuates between 8,100 MW to 10,000 MW per hour. A decrease in temperature of just one degree Celsius equates to an additional 23 MW of electricity consumed. To help put this into perspective, one MW of electricity serves about 1,250 homes.

Law noted that it is rather unusual for Alberta to hit new record peaks this early in the season, in advance of the additional demand that holiday lighting places on the system. “Having this new record come so early in the winter is a clear indication that power demand in the province is increasing and will only continue to go higher as our economy grows,” said Law, who wants to remind Albertans that every little bit helps and conserving power at home is not only good for the grid, but also reduces individual power bills.

The AESO’s team of highly trained experts monitors the electricity grid 24 hours per day, seven days per week, working collaboratively with transmission facility owners and power generation owners to ensure that even during times of high demand, contingency plans are in place and reserves are available to meet the electricity needs of all Albertans.

On November 19, Alberta’s peak demand reached a high of 10,610 MW at 6 pm, breaking the previous record of 10,609 MW set on January 16, 2012. The average daily pool price during the record peak on November 20 was $35.46 on a scale of $0-$999.

As an independent system operator, the AESO leads the safe, reliable and economic planning and operation of Alberta’s interconnected power system. The AESO also facilitates Alberta’s fair, efficient and openly competitive wholesale electricity market, which in 2012 had 170 participants and approximately $6.4 billion in annual energy transactions.