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Alberta gets 2nd grid alert in 3 days as mercury drops

Click to play video: 'Cold temperatures in Alberta strain energy grid'
Cold temperatures in Alberta strain energy grid
When temperatures plummet in Alberta, it creates a long list of challenges. Some of the issues include maintaining something many of us never think about: the electricity supply. As Nicole Stillger reports, the frigid weather also leads to many vehicles not starting, which in turns makes for some busy days for tow truck operators. – Dec 2, 2022

For the second time in a week, Alberta’s electricity system controllers issued a warning that the grid is under extra stress.

In the grid alert posted on social media, the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) said “cold temperatures, low wind and generation challenges” prompted an alert just before 5 p.m. on Thursday.

“Albertans may see power disruptions lasting about 30 minutes,” Enmax Power tweeted shortly after, adding “power consumption must be reduced due to an imbalance in supply and demand.”

The last grid alert was issued Tuesday at around the same time of day.

When grid alerts are in effect, AESO advises Albertans to conserve electricity through the peak consumption hours of 4 to 7 p.m.

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In order to take load off the electricity grid, AESO suggests measures like:

  • Turning off unnecessary lights and appliances
  • Minimizing the use of space heaters
  • Delaying the use of large appliances such as washers, dryers and dishwashers until after 7 p.m.
  • Delaying charging electric vehicles and/or plugging in block heaters
  • Cooking with a microwave, slow cooker or toaster oven instead of a stove
  • Using motion-detector lights in storage areas, garages and outdoors when possible
  • Work on a laptop instead of desktop computer

Earlier on Thursday, Environment and Climate Change Canada issued an extreme cold warning, with extremely cold wind chill values near minus 40 expected overnight.

AESO ended the grid alert at 6:18 p.m. on Thursday.

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“Thank you for your conservation efforts!” the organization posted on social media.

Leif Sollid, AESO’s manager of communications and stakeholder relations, told Global News that Albertans “really use a lot more electricity when things are extremely cold.” However, he said that was just one of the factors that combined to trigger an alert.

“We had some challenging conditions on the power system this week,” he explained. “(We had) a combination of extremely cold temperatures across the province, which drives up demand for electricity. We also had very little wind, and wind is an important contributor to our overall supply picture. And we had several generating units that either tripped off or were experiencing operational challenges and were operating below capacity.

“All those things came together at a time where we were reaching peak demand.”

Sollid noted that Albertans reducing their consumption during peak hours when a grid alert is issued is helpful.

“The grid alert is basically a warning system to let the public know that we are in a very tight supply situation on the grid, and that we are now using emergency reserves to meet demand,” he said.

–With files from Phil Heidenreich, Global News

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