Alberta breaks summer record for electricity demand Monday amid heat wave

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Alberta broke its all-time summertime electricity demand record Monday amid a historic heat wave expected to last into next week.

As of 3 p.m., the website for Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO), the provincial grid monitor, showed electricity usage hit 11,414 megawatts – surpassing the previous summer peak of 10,822 megawatts set in 2019.

AESO spokesman Leif Sollid said demand was continuing to climb.

Alberta previously hit an all-time record of 11,729 megawatts in February during extreme cold temperatures.

Sollid said despite the continuing hot weather prompting many Albertans to blast their air conditioners, AESO is confident it has the capacity to meet demand throughout the week.

“We’re in good shape,” he said.

Temperatures climbed to the mid to high 30’s C across the province Monday, and are expected to peak near 40 C in some regions including Edmonton by the middle of the week.

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Forecasters are expecting a high of 39 C on Wednesday, which would break the city’s previous heat record, set in 1937, of 37.2 C.

With a heat warning in effect in Edmonton, Environment Canada says the “prolonged, dangerous and historic heat wave” will persist through the week and is expected to continue in some regions next week.

The announcement that AESO expects to hit the electricity consumption milestone comes after B.C. power authority B.C. Hydro said Monday extreme heat led to record-breaking electricity demand for a second day in a row over the weekend.

It added that Monday’s peak hourly demand is expected to be even higher, after the village of Lytton, B.C., about 260 km northeast of Vancouver, hit 46.6 C – the highest temperature ever recorded in Canada – on Sunday.

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Sollid encouraged Albertans to limit power usage during peak hours between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m., and to take steps to conserve electricity including cooking with a microwave, crockpot or toaster oven instead of a stove. AESO also recommends avoiding running large appliances like dishwashers during the late afternoon and early evening.

Environment Canada is also reminding the public to be aware of the dangers of such a prolonged wave of heat, encouraging people to reschedule outdoor activities to cooler hours in the early morning or late in the day. Those who have to be in the heat should take breaks from it where possible, spending time in cooled indoor spaces and drinking plenty of water and other non-alcoholic or non-caffeinated beverages.

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Albertans should watch for signs of heat stroke, including a high body temperature, lack of sweat, confusion, fainting and unconsciousness and check on neighbours, family and friends who might be highly vulnerable to heat stroke.

Although children or pets should not be left behind in vehicles, between June 1 and 26, Edmonton Fire and Rescue Services responded to 42 calls for animals locked in vehicles and 28 for people.

Last week saw 18 animals locked in a vehicle, including eight such calls on Saturday, when the temperature hit a high of 33 C in the city.

While there are currently no water restrictions in Edmonton, neighbouring municipalities Strathcona County, Spruce Grove, and Parkland County have announced local water restrictions.

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Strathcona County said in a Monday notice residents are being asked to not water lawns, take short showers, and put off doing laundry to keep reservoirs up for essential firefighting, drinking and cooking.

For those looking for relief from the heat by swimming in the North Saskatchewan River, Edmonton Fire recommends using a life jacket and strongly advises swimmers to take steps to assess water conditions and potential dangers, including by visiting rivers.alberta.ca.

On Friday, Edmonton enacted its extreme weather response, including opening recreation centres to members of the public who need a cool place to go and get bottled water.

lijohnson@postmedia.com

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