Canada has been experiencing some rather cold weather with windchill factors down to -40°C.
Environment Canada has issued an extreme cold warning starting in northwestern B.C., going west through central and northern Alberta, central and southwestern Saskatchewan and southeastern Manitoba. By Friday afternoon, the extreme cold warning extended to most of central and northern Alberta, including High Level and Fort Chipewyan and as far south as Airdrie and Cochrane.
The Alberta Electric System Operator AESO reports record electricity consumption due to the cold spell.
Extremely cold weather across Alberta this week contributed to the province setting three records in a row for electricity consumption.
On December 8, 2016 between 5-6 p.m., Alberta was using a record hourly average amount of electricity at 11,442 MW. This surpassed the December 7 record of 11,404 MW, and the December 5 record of 11,400 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 $30/MWh.
In Alberta the installed capacity and energy generation shows the reliance on fossil fuels in general and coal in particular. It’s a good thing they have coal to fall back on.