British Columbia

Record breaking power usage as cold snap continues

As the cold spell continues, BC Hydro says Tuesday evening broke an 11-year record for power usage.

Tuesday evening broke an 11-year record for highest power usage by BC Hydro customers

Skaters on Panama Flats in Saanich, B.C., take advantage of the cold weather (Michael Mcarthur/CBC)

An 11 year B.C. record for power usage was broken Tuesday evening.

With temperatures remaining low there has been unprecedented demand for power by BC Hydro customers according to Ted Olynyk, the company's Vancouver Island community relations manager.

Olynyk says that between 5 and 6 p.m. power usage peaked at 10,126 megawatts.

"That's quite a lot of electricity," he said.

"Certainly on Vancouver Island, we are very temperature sensitive. We have more space heaters than other parts of the province because natural gas came so late to us."

Olynyk says people can take steps to keep their houses warm by using weather stripping, reversing the ceiling fans and hanging heavier curtains.

The cold weather has kept Victoria hardware stores busy. Frank Hazel owns two Castle Building Centres. He says weather stripping and space heaters are in demand.

"It's the drafts, the cold you can tolerate, but when you get the wind in there, it's a game changer," Hazel said.

"We can take the three of four below, but you mix that with a 15 mile wind and the wind-chill factor, it just does suck the warmth out of the home."

Be prepared for power outages this weekend

With snow in the forecast for the weekend, Ted Olynyk also wants people to be prepared for power outages.

When the power goes out, he reminds customers to turn off all unnecessary electrical equipment.

"Because what happens when the power is restored, then we have this issue called cold-low pick-up. The system has to go back and meet the previous demand and then it trips out."

Once the power returns, Olynyk says people need to wait 20 minutes for the system to stabilize before turning everything back on.