BC's sub-zero electricity consumption breaks BC Hydro's record

BC’s sub-zero electricity consumption breaks BC Hydro’s record

BC Hydro believes new records could be broken this week as electricity demand remains high.

BC Hydro set a new record for peak hourly electricity demand on Dec. 19 as freezing temperatures hit the province.

Between 5 and 6 p.m., a preliminary analysis found that consumption reached more than 10,800 megawatts, the highest on record. This surpasses the record set on December 27, 2021, when consumption reached 10,762 megawatts. The company said the increase in electricity consumption was due to additional heating requirements.

“With more sub-zero temperatures in the coming days, BC Hydro expects demand to remain high and there is the potential for this latest record to fall before the cold weather ends,” said BC Hydro spokeswoman Susie Rieder.

Rieder said BC Hydro’s system is capable of meeting electricity demands in the winter.

Weather forecasts for Vancouver and Victoria show freezing temperatures and snow continuing into Thursday.

The north of the province will experience particularly severe frosts over the coming days, with extreme cold warnings already issued.

Temperatures in Prince George dropped to minus 40 degrees Celsius and felt like minus 54 degrees Celsius with the wind chill. Temperatures in Dawson Creek were expected to hit minus 39C on Thursday night and rise to a balmy minus 15C by Christmas.

Further south, Kelowna could drop to a low of minus 28C on Wednesday before warming up over the weekend. Meanwhile, the West Kootenay is expected to hit minus 16C on Thursday.

Household electricity use is typically highest in the colder, darker winter months, which can lead to higher costs for some customers. BC Hydro is reminding customers that there are many ways to reduce electricity use this winter.

The biggest impact on consumption can be the management of the heating of the house. This can include turning down the heat when no one is home or when everyone is asleep. The tool recommends installing a programmable thermostat that will automatically adjust temperatures at different times based on your household activities. BC Hydro recommends the following temperatures:

  • 16 degrees Celsius when sleeping or away from home;
  • 21 degrees Celsius while relaxing, watching TV and;
  • 18 degrees Celsius when doing housework or cleaning.

BC Hydro also recommends not turning on the thermostat because it won’t heat the home any faster than turning it up a degree or two at a time.

If you leave the windows covered with blinds and curtains for an extra layer of window insulation, you can save heat.

“Window coverings can be a quick and cost-effective way to reduce heat loss and block cold drafts,” the supplier said.

Another way to reduce heat loss is to protect your home from drafts, BC Hydro said.

“Use caulking and caulking tape to seal gaps and cracks around doors, windows and outlets to prevent heat from escaping and cold air from entering,” the contractor said.

Fear of winter

In November, BC Hydro released a message that Britons didn’t feel prepared or what to expect as winter approached.

A report published on November 4, titled “Worst-case storm: British Columbians find extreme weather increasingly difficult to predict and prepare for,” found that nearly half of Britons already feel tired as winter’s storm clouds begin to recede.

“BC is facing potentially critical storm conditions this year due to drought-weakened vegetation from unusual weather – a wet start to summer that turned into an extended dry fall,” the report said.

Heat waves

It wasn’t just winter that broke BC Hydro’s consumption records.

In 2021, the year of the heat dome and atmospheric rivers, BC Hydro experienced 19 of the top 25 all-time summer daily peak records, including breaking its all-time high in hourly demand at 8,568 megawatts.

Compared to summer 2017, peak hourly demand in summer 2021 increased by about 13 percent.

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