New record set this week for electricity usage
December 19, 2016
Extremely cold weather across Alberta the last two weeks contributed to the province setting multiple records for electricity consumption.
On December 16, 2016 between 5-6 p.m., Alberta was using a record hourly average amount of electricity at 11,458 MW. This was the fifth time over the last two weeks Alberta surpassed its record usage and 2.04 per cent higher than the previous peak set in January 2015 of 11,229 MW.
The new winter peak usage was set 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. The average wholesale price for electricity during that peak hour was approximately $35/MWh.
Due to significant supply and a healthy reserve margin, the AESO operations team was not concerned about grid reliability overall during this week of record setting usage.
While December and January are typically the time of year when Albertans use the most electricity and a new winter peak is set, this is the first record set since January 2015 as last winter saw very mild temperatures.
As we move into the next week, warmer temperatures mean we don’t anticipate another record to be reached in the immediate future.
The AESO is always monitoring changing conditions that could affect grid reliability and ensuring appropriate contingencies are in place.