Quebec hits all-time high for power consumption during cold snap

Quebecers cope with power failures, train delays and burst pipes as freezing temperatures sweep the province.

Quebecers cope with power failures, train delays and burst pipes

Cold snap

10 years ago
Duration 2:44
Warming up leads to record-high power consumption.

Quebecers are coping with power failures, train delays and burst pipes as freezing temperatures sweep the province.

Hydro-Québec said the province broke a record for energy consumption this morning when the level hit 38,910 megawatts. The previous record was 37,717 megawatts, recorded on Jan. 24, 2011.

The provincial utility is asking households and businesses to curb their energy use at peak hours, as it expects to set another record for electricity consumption by this time tomorrow.

The public is being asked to reduce the use of electricity during peak hours of 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 8 p.m today and 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. on Thursday.

Ways to cut your power consumption

  • Lower the thermostat temperature by a degree or two in all rooms, especially those that are unused

  • Avoid using major appliances (especially dryers and dishwashers) during peak hours

  • Limit the use of hot water

"We are experiencing an exceptionally long period of intense cold and overtime, that reduces the thermal insulation of homes," said Hydro-Québec spokeswoman Ariane Connor.

"Demand for electricity grows every year. Last year alone we added 50,000 new households."

Hydro-Québec says it has implemented the necessary steps in order to ensure the continuation of its services.

The service will be taking its own advice, and says it will even turn off the well-known "Q" logo on the utility's Hydro-Québec headquarters in Montreal. The lights on the luminous Mousseau mural, displayed inside the building, will also be turned off.

Heating and lighting have been reduced in all of Quebec City's administrative buildings.

Power outages

Close to 5,500 Hydro-Québec clients were without electricity this morning in the Lanaudière, Laurentians, Montérégie and Montreal regions.

According to Connor, the outages were not related to the extreme cold weather. She said the numbers are only slightly above the average number of outages at any given time.

Crews are out working, but Connor could not confirm when the power will be back on.

"What is important is to remind people when the power comes back on, not to turn on all their appliances at the same time," she said.

AMT train stall

In Montreal, where it felt like -38 C with the windchill factor, the cold weather conditions crippled an AMT train during the morning commute.

Passengers on the Deux Montagnes line were forced to wait outside on the platform for up to 40 minutes.

Brigitte Léonard, spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Transport Agency (AMT,) confirmed there was a mechanical problem with the Deux Montagnes line that caused the stall.

Léonard said the problem stemmed from condensation that had built up in an engine valve as a result of the cold weather.

Hundreds of commuters were stranded outside today in the cold when an AMT train stalled in Montreal this morning. (Source: Taylor C. Noakes)

Passengers were asked to get off the 8 a.m. train when it stalled at the Montpellier station.

Taylor Noakes was a passenger on the stalled train.

He said several trains packed full of morning commuters passed through the station without stopping, leaving him and others stranded on the platform.

"I ended up getting to work two hours later than I was supposed to," Noakes said.

Water mains burst

In the borough of Verdun, work crews are repairing two separate water mains that broke this morning on Galt Street.

One of the broken pipes was near the Wellington Street intersection, while the other was only a few blocks away, close to Claude Street.

Firefighters said at least two homes were flooded as a result.