Electricity emergency alert ends, after heat wave spikes demand in Alberta

An energy emergency alert issued by the Alberta Electric System Operator has ended, as the heat wave blanketing the province causes record high demands. 

Temperatures rose above 40 C in parts of the province on Tuesday

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An energy emergency alert issued by the Alberta Electric System Operator has ended, as the heat wave blanketing the province causes record high demands. 

A Level 1 alert was issued after 4:30 p.m. Tuesday. It ended at 6:10 p.m.

That means all available resources in the energy market were used to meet the load but that some reserves were still available. 

Demand on the grid briefly hit 11,700 MW in the afternoon.

The entire province is under a heat warning as daytime temperatures soar well above 30 C.

  • WATCH | Calgarians cope with record-breaking heat wave in the video above:

The hottest spot in the province at the time the alert was issued was Grande Prairie, where the temperature hit 40.8 C. It was 36.3 C in Calgary, near the city's all-time heat record of 36.5 C set in August 2018. 

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.

The operator's website stated that at 5:30 p.m., 587 MW of contingency reserves were required to keep the grid stable — it had 588 MW of reserves available. 

The website states that adequate supply was expected to return after 7 p.m. Electricity demand typically peaks between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. — and AESO is asking Albertans to lower their electricity use, especially during that period but also throughout the day.

"In addition to helping conserve energy during this peak period, we're asking Albertans to take action throughout the day by closing window coverings, lowering thermostats to pre-cool homes and avoiding using major appliances and charging electric devices, including electric vehicles, during the period of highest demand," said Dennis Frehlich, the organization's vice-president of grid reliability, in a release. 

  • WATCH | What's causing the unprecedented heat wave in Western Canada:

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Meteorologists have overwhelmingly linked this heat wave's cause to climate change and a warming planet.

Janelle Gergely, a meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada, told CBC that a heat wave this prolonged is unusual — the last time Calgary saw more than five days in a row above 32 C was in 1914. 

"So it's been over 100 years since we've seen this many consecutive days with such warm temperatures," she said.

She said this weekend Albertans will see some respite from the heat. 

"However, [temperatures will] still remain warm, anywhere from 26 to 28 C over the weekend and going into early next week."


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