Alberta Electric System Operator

Alberta Electric System Operator

March 25, 2014 11:30 ET

Electric System Operates Smoothly Through Winter Despite Extreme Temperatures and Increased Demand

CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwired - March 25, 2014) - Despite an extremely cold winter causing increased demand for electricity, Alberta's electric system remained operating efficiently and electricity prices remained stable.

Last month was Calgary's coldest February in 20 years, and while demand remained very high, the system remained reliable. The overall average demand for power from December 21, 2013-March 20, 2014 was up four per cent from the same time in 2012-2013. A difference of 373 megawatts, the increased demand is equivalent to powering an additional 460,000 homes.

"We typically see an increased demand this time of year, but with the deep freeze we have seen this winter and residential and industrial use increasing, this year has been a particularly notable one," says Miranda Keating Erickson, Vice President, Operations with the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO).

Electricity prices remained stable this winter. Wholesale electricity prices averaged $60.05/megawatt hour this winter. This is lower than the five year winter average price of $62.30/megawatt hour.

Annual growth in demand

This winter continued a trend of strong growth that the province has seen for a number of years. Overall winter peak system demand increased by five per cent year-over-year from 2012 to 2013. This is the strongest peak growth in North America.

A new all-time peak load of 11,139 MW was reached on December 2, 2013. This is five per cent higher than the previous peak of 10,609 MW, set on January 16, 2012.

"Our operations team monitors the grid 24 hours a day, seven days a week, working together with transmission facility owners and power generation owners to ensure that especially during these high- demand periods, the system can still meet the needs of Albertans," Keating Erickson adds.

While the cold snap seems to be behind Albertans for this year, the transmission system could still experience challenges with April being typically a high precipitation month with heavy snow.

As an independent system operator, the AESO leads the safe, reliable and economic planning and operation of Alberta's interconnected power system. The AESO also facilitates Alberta's fair, efficient and openly competitive wholesale electricity market, which in 2013 had 176 participants and approximately $8 billion in annual energy transactions.

Contact Information

  • Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO)
    Angela Anderson
    External Relations Advisor
    403-539-2769 or Cell: 403-826-4162
    angela.anderson@aeso.ca