Heat wave pushes Alberta past record high electricity demand

The historic heat wave that has settled over Western Canada has pushed Alberta past a record high demand for electricity.

Previous record was hit in 2019

Alberta has broken its record for electricity demand as a heat wave settles in over Western Canada. (CBC)

The historic heat wave that has settled over Western Canada has pushed Alberta past a record high demand for electricity.

A spokesperson for the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) said earlier in the day the summer record of 10,822 megawatts, set in 2019, was expected to be broken today.

And shortly before 5 p.m. MT, the AESO's website showed the load as 11,500 megawatts, though the provincial power grid operator could not officially confirm the record had been surpassed. 

Alberta's energy use usually peaks in winter, with an all-time record of 11,729 MW set in winter 2020. With record high temperatures, it's possible that will change this year.

A similar record was also broken within Calgary. 

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At 3 p.m., the city saw a load of 1,723 megawatts, according to ENMAX's website — breaking the summer record of 1,692 megawatts set in August 2018, and the winter record of 1,653 megawatts set in December 2013, the utility company confirmed.

"We did surpass our all-time summer record … and it continues to climb," said ENMAX spokesperson Gina Sutherland.

The temperature near the Calgary airport was 33 C at the time. 

The entire province is under a heat warning, with temperatures expected to peak around 40 C mid-week. 

Temperatures and power demand are continuing to rise, and demand typically peaks between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. 

Leif Sollid, communications manager for AESO, said the grid is continuing to meet demand but it will help if people conserve power during that high-use period.

"Don't do your dishes right after dinner. Yeah, if you can avoid using major appliances, turn off lights … all that collectively can make a difference," Sollid said.

CBC meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe said Alberta is expected to be the hottest place in Canada on Tuesday. 

"This is absolutely connected to climate change … our baseline has shifted," she said. 


  • An earlier version of this story stated Alberta had broken its all-time record for power demand. While it may surpass that record this week, the summer record is the one that was broken on Monday.
    Jun 28, 2021 5:12 PM MT

With files from Rick Donkers and CBC British Columbia