At approximately 8:40 p.m., on Saturday, The Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) declared that the grid alert that had been issued in the afternoon had ended.

Previously, at 6:45 p.m., The Alberta Emergency Alert system was triggered, stating that, extreme cold resulting in high power demand, has placed the Alberta grid at a high risk of rotating power outages this evening.

The emergency alert came a few hours after The Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) said that it declared a Grid Alert today at 3:30 p.m. in response to ongoing extreme cold temperatures across western Canada, restricted imports and very high demand.  

 AESO projected that the Alberta grid could have faced a 100 to 200 Megawatts (MW) shortfall of electricity during peak evening hours. Immediate power conservation could make a significant difference in reducing overall system demand, currently at approximately 12,000 MW.

"To put these numbers into perspective, tonight the City of Calgary will be drawing approximately 1,650 MW of electricity, and, if rotating outages are implemented, will need to reduce power by approximately 50 MW. Albertans are asked to immediately reduce their electricity use to essential needs only. Reducing peak electricity demand through province-wide conservation will minimize the high potential for rotating outages this evening," AESO stated.

Rotating outages means that some power will be temporarily out in different parts of the province until sufficient generation returns to the grid or power demand declines enough that the AESO can rebalance supply and demand.  

In the event of a rotating outage, the AESO directs Distribution Facility Owners (DFOs), such as municipalities, to reduce power on a pro-rata basis across the province.  Outages will occur simultaneously across Alberta. Each DFO manages rotating outages at their level. Each rotating outage is expected to last approximately 30 minutes at a time and could be implemented shortly.  

Critical facilities such as hospitals, fire, police and first responders are not included in rotating outages.

Shortly after Alberta's emergency alert system was triggered, Alberta's Minister of Affordability and Utilities, Nathan Neudorf issued the following statement in response.

"We are calling on all Albertans to reduce their electric demand immediately to essentials only. Extreme cold resulting in high power demand has put the province’s electricity grid at high risk of rotating outages tonight."

Tips to conserve electricity this evening and into the night include:

  • Turn off unnecessary lights and electrical appliances;
  • Minimize the use of space heaters;
  • Delay the use of major power-consuming appliances such as washers, dryers and dishwashers;
  • Delay charging electric vehicles and/or plugging in block heaters;
  • Cook with your microwave, crockpot or toaster oven instead of an electric stove or oven;
  • Limit the use of kitchen or bathroom ventilation fans;
  • Work on a laptop instead of a desktop computer (laptops are more energy-efficient than desktop units);
  • Unplug electric appliances when not in use, as they continue to drain energy even if they’re off (or use a power bar to cut power to multiple appliances with a single button);
  • Close your curtains/shades/blinds to cover drafty windows.

This is the second grid alert issued in less than 24 hours by AESO. On Friday, January 12, AESO issued a grid alert due to the extreme cold. In a statement on X, formerly known as Twitter, AESO said the situation was exacerbated by, 'two large natural gas generator outages, and very low renewable power.'

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