Extreme cold weather snap contributes to 3 electricity records in Alberta

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WATCH ABOVE: Kevin O'Connell has our weather forecast for the Saturday morning news. This extreme cold will last for some time! – Dec 10, 2016

With the windchill plunging into the -40 C range and with limited daylight hours, Alberta set three records in a row for electricity consumption.

The Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) said the province used a record hourly average amount of electricity between 5 and 6 p.m. on Dec. 8, reaching 11,442 megawatts (MW).

That number surpassed the Dec. 7 record of 11,404 MW and the Dec. 5 record of 11,400 MW.

READ MORE: Alberta electricity demand surges to all-time high as province remains frozen in cold snap 

The AESO said the uptick in demand was due to “cold weather, reduced daylight hours and the convergence of Christmas lighting load at homes, businesses, malls and buildings across the province.

“Another factor that contributed was the low market price for electricity – this prevented price sensitive industrial facilities from going offline during peak hours.”

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AESO said the average wholesale price for electricity during that peak hour was about $30 per megawatt hour. The agency also said it was not concerned about grid reliability during that time.

READ MORE: Extreme cold warnings issued for areas of central, northern Alberta 

Environment Canada has issued an extreme cold warning starting in northwestern B.C., going east through central and northern Alberta, central and southwestern Saskatchewan and southeastern Manitoba.

By Friday afternoon, the extreme cold warning extended to most of central and northern Alberta, including High Level and Fort Chipewyan and as far south as Airdrie and Cochrane.

The temperature is forecast to drop to the low minus 30s, and with the wind chill, it will feel like minus 40 or colder.

The City of Edmonton kept all of its transit centres and LRT stations open overnight as shelter against the frigid temperatures.

Extreme cold warnings are issued when very cold temperatures or wind chill creates an elevated risk to health such as frost bite and hypothermia.

According to Environment Canada’s alert map, the extreme cold warnings for all of Alberta had been dropped by Sunday afternoon.

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Criteria for the warning is that, with the wind, temperatures feel colder than -40C.

Late Sunday afternoon, an extreme cold warning was re-instated for Fort Chipewyan, Fort McMurray and Fort MacKay.

For the latest information from Environment Canada on the extreme cold warnings, click here.

Watch below: Is it cold enough in Calgary to turn boiling water into vapour? 

Click to play video: 'Is it cold enough in Calgary to turn boiling water into vapor?' Is it cold enough in Calgary to turn boiling water into vapor?
Is it cold enough in Calgary to turn boiling water into vapor? – Dec 10, 2016

If safe to do so, share your weather photos with us via the Global Edmonton Facebook and Twitter accounts. You can also post updates from your community using the hashtags #yegwx and #abstorm. To report severe weather to Environment Canada, you can email

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With files from The Canadian Press

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