Twitter/Alberta Electric System Operator

As Alberta’s internal electrical load creeps up again to close to record levels at supper time on Wednesday, Dec. 21, the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) issued its second “grid alert” in one day, its third in 24 hours across two days, and its fifth in three weeks. It did this as the grid’s internal load set another record, exceeding the previous record set two days before.

Earlier the same day, the AESO advised Albertans to conserve power usage for three hours, starting at 8:25 a.m. That grid alert was linked to the Keephills Unit 3 natural gas plant going down. At the same time, wind power production was minimal and solar had yet to start producing.

But being the shortest day of the year, with the lowest angle of the sun, by the noon hour, Alberta’s 1,138 megawatts of nameplate solar capacity was only providing 233 megawatts, or 20.5 per cent. At the same time, wind was producing 282 megawatts, out of a nameplate capacity of 3,618 megawatts.

Then at 4:24 p.m., the AESO issued its second grid alert for the day.

“The AESO declared a Grid Alert at 4:24 p.m. as frigid temperatures affected some generation facility operations.”

That was only four hours after returning to normal grid conditions from the first alert. And for the second time in a day, the pool price for power maxed out at $1000 per megawatt-hour (technically $999.99)

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As for those frigid temperatures – wind turbines must shut down at -30C temperatures. And that was indicative of the wind fleet. While six facilities were running at roughly half their nameplate capacity, at 4:56, 25 of 36 wind-powered facilities were producing zero power, just as demand was spiking. And, unsurprisingly, zero solar facilities were producing any power, either.

Extreme cold warnings blanketed all of Alberta on Dec. 21. Environment Canada

The entire province of Alberta was under extreme cold warnings.

At 5:27 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 21, Alberta’s internal power load hit 12,228 megawatts. Alberta Electric System Operator

 

At 5:27 p.m., the Alberta internal load was 12,228 megawatts, exceeding by 41 megawatts he all-time peak of 12,187 megawatts established on Monday, December 19. Of its 10,894 megawatts of natural gas powered power generation, 9,058 megawatts were deployed, and there was only 30 megawatts of available spare natural gas power, known as “Dispatched (and Accepted) Contingency Reserve.”

Nearly all of the 386 megawatts of continency reserve remaining was from two hydro facilities – Bow River, which had 58 megawatts of spare capacity, and Brazeau Hydro, which had 230 megawatts of spare capacity as contingency reserve. Of 70 megawatts of battery capacity, 68 megawatts was available as dispatched contingency reserve, but none was being used. Three of those four batteries were used during the morning grid alert. eReserve1 Rycroft, eReserve2 Buffalo Creek and  eReserve3 Mercer Hill were used from 9:10 to 9:50 a.m., according to Dispatcho.app.

On this, the shortest day of the year, Alberta’s largest solar facility, Travers, produced power for 7 hours, 38 minutes. It’s first megawatt came onto the grid at 9:39 a.m. It peaked at 155 megawatts at 1:30 p..m., 33 per cent of nameplate capacity, and started declining gradually, with a small bump to 148 megawatts at 2:46 p.m. By 5:17 pm., it contributed its last 2 megawatts to the grid.

This was the output from the Travers Solar Facility, Alberta’s largest, at 465 megawatts capacity. It peaked at 155 megawatts on the shortest day of the year. Dispatcho.app

 

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Wednesday morning Alberta declared fourth “grid alert” for its electrical system this month