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Southern Alberta businesses see higher costs with lower temperatures

Click to play video: 'Southern Alberta businesses see higher costs with lower temperatures' Southern Alberta businesses see higher costs with lower temperatures
An icy blast of winter weather has seen temperatures in southern Alberta dip below -30 C over the past couple weeks. As Erik Bay tells us, warding off the cold is creating higher costs for local businesses. – Jan 5, 2022

Southern Alberta is trapped in winter’s cold grasp, with temperatures below -20 C, even dropping into -30 C over the past couple weeks.

That’s causing Leighton Kolk’s energy costs to rise, as he use more power to make sure his cattle are cared for.

“With wind chills of (minus) 40s and 50s like we saw the last couple days, it’s tough slugging,” Kolk told Global News.

“That’s going to cut into profit margins and there could be a month like this where there could be negative margins, not positive.”

Read more: After weekend reprieve, extreme cold warning returns for most of Alberta

On Tuesday, Lethbridge set a peak load for energy use this winter at 143 megawatts. While that’s still a far cry from the city’s all-time peak of 192 megawatts, electric utility general manager Jason Drenth says it’s a sizeable bump.

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“That’s probably about 25 per cent more energy being consumed across the city as a whole, compared to say a normal winter day where it’s not windy, it’s sunny and temperatures are more moderate,” Drenth said.

Click to play video: 'Cleanup begins after high winds cause property damage across southern Alberta' Cleanup begins after high winds cause property damage across southern Alberta
Cleanup begins after high winds cause property damage across southern Alberta – Dec 1, 2021

But power bills aren’t the only added costs when it gets this cold.

Gary Randa brings his company trucks inside to keep them out of the elements, but when they’re on the road they need to stay running constantl, meaning more trips to the pumps.

Read more: Lethbridge shelters ready for cold snap amid holiday season

“If you’re out there everyday, you’re not shutting it off,” Randa said.

“The price of fuel nowadays is quite high, so you’re running cost becomes a real big factor in this kind of weather.”

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With cattle needing more feed as temperatures drop, farmers on the prairies are offsetting shortages with shipments from the United States. But the prolonged cold weather is stalling deliveries.

Click to play video: 'Lethbridge officials expect power usage to increase over heat wave' Lethbridge officials expect power usage to increase over heat wave
Lethbridge officials expect power usage to increase over heat wave – Jun 28, 2021

“The only way to get the grain up here out of the U.S. is by train and once you start getting to 20- or 30-below, trains don’t run worth a toot,” Kolk said. “They’re delayed, they’re backed up, they can’t move.”

There is some relief for bottom lines in the forecast, with Environment Canada predicting daytime highs above freezing early next week.

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