B.C.’s cold snap leads to record-breaking demand for electricity

B.C.'s cold snap leads to record-breaking demand for electricity
Downtown Victoria on Jan. 13, 2020. BC Hydro said the highest peak hourly demand was reached on Jan. 13.

The cold snap in British Columbia this week has led to a new record for the highest peak hourly demand for electricity.

The new record for peak hourly demand – the hour customers use the most electricity – was reached on Jan. 13 when consumption reached 10,302 megawatts, BC Hydro said.

The previous record was set on Jan. 3, 2017, when electricity peaked at 10,194 megawatts.

In B.C., 100 Mile, Atlin, B.C. Peace River, Bulkley Valley and the Lakes District, Cariboo, Cassiar Mountains, B.C., Chilcotin, Dease Lake, Elk Valley, Fort Nelson, Haines Road from the Haines Junction to Pleasant Camp, Kinbasket, McGregor, Muncho Lake Park – Stone Mountain Park, North Columbia, Prince George, South Klondike Highway – Carcross to White Pass, Stuart – Nechako, Teslin B.C., Watson Lake, B.C., Williston, Yellowhead and Yoho Park – Kootenay Park are all under an extreme cold warning.

Other areas of the province are under an Arctic outflow warning.  The Southern Gulf Islands most of Vancouver Island are still under a snowfall warning.

BC Hydro said with below-freezing temperatures and more snow expected, the demand for electricity is expected to remain high, and BC Hydro is expecting peak loads between 9,800 and 10,600 megawatts. Monday’s peak load is 16 per cent higher than the previous week.

BC Hydro said it recordsthe highest demand for electricity on weekday evenings when British Columbians come home, turn up the heat, switch on the lights, do laundry and make dinner. Residential electricity can increase, on average, by 88 per cent in the colder, darker, winter months. This can lead to higher heating costs for customers.

According to BC Hydro, customers can reduce electricity in the winter by:

  • Setting thermostat at an ideal temperature based on time of day can help reduce wasted electricity:

    o   16 degrees Celsius when sleeping or away from home;

    o   21 degrees Celsius when relaxing, watching TV; and,

    o   18 degrees Celsius when doing housework or cleaning.

  • Avoid cranking up the thermostat – cranking up the thermostat does not heat the home up faster than turning it up a degree or two at a time.

  • Draftproofing around windows and doors to reduce heat loss by 10 per cent.


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