Alberta's 'unstable' power grid faces Level 3 alert due to hot weather, low winds, and wildfires

While Alberta continues to oppose Ottawa’s expedited transition to ‘net-zero’ electricity, the province has faced two grid alerts since Monday afternoon due to hot weather, dry conditions and low wind generation.

Alberta's 'unstable' power grid faces Level 3 alert due to hot weather, low winds, and wildfires
Facebook/ Danielle Smith
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On Monday, Global News reported the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) issued a Level 3 power alert for the province. They said un-ideal weather conditions and a power outage in B.C. strained the province’s electrical grid, preventing them from importing power.

According to its website, the operator issues a grid alert when staff need to use emergency reserves to meet power demands and maintain system reliability.

“Our system is under intense strain due to the heat combined with very little wind to generate power,” said Alberta Premier Danielle Smith. “We are relying almost entirely on natural gas supplemented with solar to power our grid at this time as the inter-tie with B.C. is being repaired.”

With the energy operator requesting people to reduce their electricity usage to avoid more severe emergency measures, Smith said the province must increase its base-load power from natural gas and other sources to our electricity grid to “protect the reliability and affordability of power for Albertans.”

“The AESO takes a variety of actions to maintain reliability, including using emergency reserves, reducing or suspending exports or energy sales, cancelling transmission maintenance, implementing voluntary curtailment programs (participants are asked to reduce their energy use to predetermined levels), and requesting emergency imports,” reads the organization’s website.

“As the last option to maintain reliability, the AESO can initiate temporary rotating power outages.”

On Tuesday, AESO reminded Albertans to limit their power consumption again due to “potential grid instability.” They said peak consumption typically occurs between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. when demand is high and wind is expected to be very low.

“Albertans must be able to turn on their lights, furnaces and A/C when needed. They also need to be able to afford the electricity they use,” said Smith.

“To do this, we need more natural gas generation brought online ASAP while we develop and implement nuclear, hydrogen, geothermal and other emerging technologies that can provide the base load power we need by 2050.”

She used the grid instability to attack Ottawa’s 2035 ‘net-zero’ draft regulations, contending it would be impossible to achieve. “That is why our UCP government won’t let this terrible federal plan be implemented here.”

According to real-time ENMAX data, the demand on Calgary’s grid was 1,601 megawatts at approximately 5 p.m. on Monday — more than 100 megawatts under the current season’s record (1,733 megawatts).

Enmax has since declared power outages in the southwest Calgary neighbourhoods of Altadore and Garrison Woods, affecting around 375 customers.

Alberta’s energy critic Kathleen Ganley claimed the grid alert occurred because of the province’s “botched” handling of the electrical grid.

“Albertans are facing unprecedented energy bills and unprecedented wildfires, while Danielle Smith bans the development of renewable energy. Her actions will limit the supply of electricity while increasing costs and the emissions that drive climate change,” she said.

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