BC Hydro predicting record-breaking power usage as heat descends on the province

·1 min read

BC Hydro is expecting potentially record-breaking demand on the power system as British Columbia and Alberta enter what's forecast to be a blistering heat wave.

The company said if Monday's forecast holds, peak hourly demand could go as high as 7,800 megawatt hours, about 1,300 more than is typical for May.

In a statement Friday, it said historically the province hasn't recorded anything above 7,500 megawatts in May.

Environment Canada is forecasting daytime temperatures 10 to 15 degrees above normal in parts of both provinces over the next several days, with heat peaking Sunday through Tuesday in the high 20s to low 30s.

The power company said its system can meet the additional demand which is only about two-thirds of what's typically recorded on the coldest days of the year.

During a cold snap last December, the highest ever peak hourly demand hit 10,900 megawatt hours between 5 and 6 p.m. one day.

The highest demand recorded in the warmer months was during the summer of 2021 when usage reached 8,568 megawatt hours.

Previously planned outages are being cancelled where possible to ensure customers have access to the electricity they need to keep cool.

Meanwhile, high streamflow advisories cover much B.C. as the rising temperatures increase the risk of flooding from melting snow in the mountains.

The Alberta government declared a provincial state of emergency last weekend in response to wildfires that have forced thousands of people from their homes.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 12, 2023

The Canadian Press