Skip to main content

Grid alert issued as Alberta sets record for power consumption


The Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) issued a grid alert for power consumption on Friday.

The alert was issued at 4:16 p.m.

"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," AESO wrote in an online statement.

"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."

Just before 8 p.m., AESO posted on X: "Grid challenges are easing. Stay warm and we’ll keep you posted on new developments." 

In an interview earlier on Friday, AESO confirmed Alberta had set a new record for power use.

"We set a new record for peak demand last night at 6 p.m. when we hit 12,384 megawatts of power consumption. That beat the previous record, which was set back in December 2022," Leif Sollid of AESO told CTV News Edmonton.

Sollid says people plugging in their vehicles, using space heaters and running furnaces is driving the demand.

Sollid says the conditions are extremely challenging and two natural gas generators are currently offline.

"One was planned maintenance, the other was an unplanned outage due to the weather," he said. "Another key challenge is we're getting very little renewable power onto the grid, which is not helping us."

"Out of a total installed capacity of approximately 6,000 megawatts, we're only getting about 30 megawatts out of renewables. So that doesn't help us on days like today."

He says the decline is due to the limited number of daylight hours and decrease in wind during cold temperatures.

AESO is asking Albertans not to use large appliances during peak times, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., and plug in vehicles only an hour or two before using them, or use a timer to help conserve power.

"Not running large appliances, your dishwashers, your washing machine, your dryer, not plugging in your vehicle, or putting it on a timer so that it draws power after 7 p.m.

"All of that taken together across the province can bring that overall peak power down just a little bit, which is very helpful."

Sollid says AESO has trained operators who monitor the grid in real time, and they have contingency measures in place.

"We always keep backup resources…that helps us ensure that we keep the lights on for Alberta. And we have an excellent track record of doing that even during the most challenging weather conditions."

He says generating plants in Alberta are designed to work in cold conditions, unlike some in other regions.

"Both electricity, oil and gas, are very hardoned for cold weather. So unlike, for example, Texas, where if it goes to blow zero, they're in trouble, we're good to -40 C and below, because of our standards.

"The cold weather actually impacts us less than the hot weather. Natural gas plants are able to run quite efficiently in the cold, when you get hot weather plants can start to overheat, and then we have to reduce their output." 


As Albertans run their furnaces to keep warm, HVAC companies are struggling to keep up with the calls for service.

"We're busy, we're swamped, we're slammed," Joe Kilcup of Legacy Heating and Cooling told CTV News Edmonton.

"We know this is our time to shine. Sure we're busy in the summertime, but in the winter time it's essential."

Kilcup says technicians are visiting 10 to 15 homes a day to fix furnaces.

"You're waiting six to eight hours. Generally a house doesn’t cool down as fast as you think it does."

He says many customers are opting for heat pumps these days.

"A cold weather heat pump is rated down to -30 C. You’d think that’s all you need until you check the current temperature today."

He suggests not getting rid of your traditional furnace with Alberta's unpredictable weather, and make sure to keep up with the regular maintenance.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Jeremy Thompson. Top Stories

Stay Connected