Grid Alerts & electricity conservation
The AESO issues a Grid Alert when the power system is under stress and we’re preparing to use emergency reserves to meet demand and maintain system reliability. Consumers are asked to reduce their electricity use during Grid Alerts to help mitigate the possibility of undertaking more serious emergency measures to balance the system, including rotating power outages.
Grid Alerts can be triggered by different factors that affect power generation and electricity demand, such as:
- Extremely cold or hot weather, which drives increased use of heating or air conditioning systems
- Time of day and wind conditions, which impact the availability of solar and wind-generated energy
- Unplanned generation facility outages
- Other factors beyond transmission and generation facility owners’ control, such as lightning, downed power lines, etc.
During a Grid Alert, the AESO takes a variety of actions to maintain reliability, including using emergency reserves, reducing or suspending exports or energy sales, cancelling transmission maintenance, implementing voluntary curtailment programs (participants are asked to reduce their energy use to predetermined levels), and requesting emergency imports. As the last option to maintain reliability, the AESO can initiate temporary rotating power outages.
Albertans can also play an important role in energy conservation in their homes and businesses.
Electricity conservation tips
Here are some tips Albertans can use to reduce electricity use, especially during peak hours (between 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.):
- Turn off unnecessary lights and electrical appliances
- Minimize the use of air conditioning/space heaters
- Delay the use of major power-consuming appliances such as washers, dryers and dishwashers until after peak hours
- Use cold water for washing clothes—most of the energy used goes to heating the water (only running full loads helps too)
- Delay charging electric vehicles and/or plugging in block heaters
- Cook with your microwave, crockpot or toaster oven instead of the stove
- Limit the use of kitchen or bathroom ventilation fans
- Use motion-detector lights in storage areas, garages, and outdoors when possible
- Work on a laptop instead of a desktop computer (laptops are more energy-efficient than desktop units)
There are also smaller—but still effective—ways to conserve energy:
- Unplug electric appliances when not in use, as they continue to drain energy even if they’re off (or use a power bar to cut power to multiple appliances with a single button)
- Use ceiling fans to circulate warm/cool air to maintain a consistent temperature
- Close your curtains/shades/blinds to cover drafty windows when it’s cold; open them on warm, sunny days to help heat your home
- Have air conditioners/heating systems serviced on a routine basis; also, regularly clean filters
- Identify and seal leaks around doors and windows
Check your energy retailer’s web site for more comprehensive energy-saving tips!