Alberta Urges Conservation as Hot Weather Boosts Power Prices

Alberta power prices spiked to the highest level in almost two months on above-average temperatures, a drop in wind-generated power and the planned outage of a transmission line from British Columbia.

The Alberta Electric System Operator asked citizens of the Canadian province to voluntarily reduce electricity usage over the Labor Day holiday weekend, when temperatures are expected to be higher than normal, increasing demand for power to run air conditioners. Labor Day falls on Sept. 2 this year.

Posted pool prices for Alberta electricity spiked to the maximum C$999.99 (US$949.03) per megawatt hour in the early afternoon hours from a low of C$11.76 in the early morning hours. It last hit that level on July 2, according to data posted on the Alberta Electric System Operator’s website.

Temperatures in Calgary in southern Alberta have been higher than normal over the last few days, reaching a high of 27.5 degrees Celsius (81.5 degrees Fahrenheit) yesterday, compared with a historical average of 20 degrees for this time of year, according to Environment Canada.

“Our forecasts are indicating that supply on the grid will be tight, and we anticipate that electricity consumption will be high,” AESO Vice President of Operations Mike Law said in a statement. “We are asking Albertans to help decrease overall demand on the grid by voluntarily reducing their use of electricity.”

A combination of warm weather, lack of wind and an outage on the intertie from British Columbia that provides Alberta with its largest source of imported electricity helped to reduce the supply of power, AESO said.

Demand for power exceeded the operator’s forecasts for most of the day, with consumption exceeding the estimate by as much as 225 megawatts during the 7 a.m. hour local time, according to AESO data.

Environment Canada expects maximum temperatures to cool into the low-20s tomorrow and Saturday before returning to the mid-to-high-20s into next week.

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