With people across Alberta desperately trying to stay warm during this cold snap, the demand for electricity spiked so much on Monday night that it triggered two energy emergency alerts from the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO).
Despite the alerts affecting Lethbridge — as well as the rest of the province — those at electric operations in Lethbridge said it’s basically business as usual in southern Alberta, even with the frigid temperatures.
“In actual fact, Lethbridge has a slightly different load than the rest of Alberta, in that we peak in summer,” said Stew Purkis, the Electric Utility Manager for the City of Lethbridge. “The air conditioning requirements of our homes is much greater in this part of Alberta than in the remainder.”
But even with less of a spike in Lethbridge on Monday night, the city was under the same alert as the rest of the province from AESO.
In a statement on its website, AESO called Monday’s alert-triggering demand “near record-breaking” and said that extreme weather had affected the operations of some generation facilities across the province.
Coupled with the low wind in the province, AESO activated its Energy Emergency Alert (EEA) protocol, with a level 1 alert issued at 5:18 p.m., followed by a level 2 alert at 7:15 p.m.
In the three-tiered alert system, levels 1 and 2 mean all power needs are being met across the province, but a level 3 alert would mean jurisdictions should prepare to curtail their loads.
Lethbridge residents can still help the grid and their electricity bills by conserving energy, and Purkis said avoiding using space heaters for long periods of time is a good way to avoiding spiking electricity bills.
He also pointed to clothes dryers as the biggest energy-eating culprit.
“If we can keep our use to one major appliance at a time, if that’s possible, that is the absolute best way to actually technically ensure that there’s enough supply for the demand that’s out there,” said Purkis.
“It also helps a lot with everyone’s bill.”
Purkis also urged energy users to delay using major appliances to non-peak hours — which are between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.