BC Subzero Electricity Use Breaks BC Hydro Record

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

BC Hydro set a new record for peak electricity demand per hour on December 19 as sub-zero temperatures dropped in the province.

Between 5 and 6 p.m., the preliminary analysis found that consumption exceeded 10,800 megawatts, the highest ever recorded. That surpasses the record set on December 27, 2021 when consumption reached 10,762 megawatts. The utility company said the increase in electricity use was driven by additional heating requirements.

“With more freezing temperatures to come, BC Hydro expects demand to remain high and there is a chance to see this latest record drop before the cold snap ends,” said Susie Rieder, BC Hydro spokesperson.

Rieder said BC Hydro’s system is capable of meeting electricity demand during the winter.

For Vancouver and Victoria, weather forecasts show sub-zero temperatures and snow will continue through Thursday.

The north of the province will see especially intense cold in the coming days, with extreme cold alerts already issued.

Temperatures dropped to minus 40 degrees Celsius in Prince George, and it feels like minus 54 C with the wind chill.

Farther south, Kelowna could drop to as low as -28 C on Wednesday before heating up over the weekend. Meanwhile, West Kootenay is expected to experience temperatures of minus 16C on Thursday.

Residential electricity usage is typically higher in the colder, darker winter months, which can result in higher costs for some customers. BC Hydro reminds customers that there are many ways to reduce electricity use this winter.

Home heating management can have the biggest impact on usage. That can include turning down the heat when no one is home or when everyone is sleeping. The utility suggests installing a programmable thermostat to automatically adjust temperatures at different times based on activities in your home. BC Hydro recommends the following temperatures:

  • 16 degrees Celsius when sleeping or away from home;
  • 21 degrees Celsius when you relax, watch TV and;
  • 18 degrees Celsius when doing housework or cleaning.

Also, BC Hydro recommends against turning up the thermostat, as it won’t heat the house any faster than turning it up a degree or two at a time.

Keeping windows covered with blinds and shades for an extra layer of window insulation can hold in heat.

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

Another way to reduce heat loss is to draft-proof your home, BC Hydro said.

“Use caulk and weather stripping to seal gaps and cracks around doors, windows and exits to prevent heat from escaping and cold air from entering,” the utility said.

winter fears

In November, BC Hydro released a report saying British Columbians were not feeling prepared or knowing what to expect as winter approached.

A report released Nov. 4 titled “Worst-Case Storm: British Columbians Feel Extreme Weather Getting Harder to Predict and Prepare for” found that nearly half of British Columbians British Columbia are already feeling fatigued as the winter storm clouds begin to gather.

“This year, BC is once again facing potentially critical storm conditions due to drought-weakened vegetation due to unusual weather: a rainy early summer that turned into a prolonged dry fall,” the report says.

Heat waves

It’s not just winter that has broken BC Hydro’s consumption records.

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

Compared to summer 2017, summer 2021 peak hour demand increased by approximately 13 percent.



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