Twitter/Alberta Electric System Operator

At 3:08 p.m., on Monday, Aug. 28, the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) issued a “grid alert,” warning Albertans to reduce their power consumption lest the lights go out.

“Due to a combination of hot weather, a BC outage that affects intertie capability to import, and low wind generation, the AESO has declared a Grid Alert. Find information on Grid Alerts here https://www.aeso.ca/aeso/understanding-electricity-in-alberta/grid-alerts-and-electricity-conservation/ ” the first AESO tweet said.

At the time, it was 30 C in Calgary and Edmonton, 31 in Medicine Hat, 28 in Lloydminster, and even 26 in Fort McMurray.

The alert from AESO was a Level 3, meaning “Firm load interuption is imminent or in progress.”

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith said on various social media, “The Alberta Electric System Operator has issued a Level 3 power alert for Alberta. Our system is currently under intense strain due to the heat combined with very little wind to generate power. We are relying almost entirely on natural gas supplemented with solar to power our grid at this time as the inter-tie with BC is being repaired.

“The AESO is asking people to reduce their electricity usage to balance out the system reliability and prevent more serious emergency measures.

“It is critical that Alberta add more base-load power from natural gas and other sources to our electricity grid to protect the reliability and affordability of power for Albertans.”

The second AESO tweet suggested not using high electrical usage appliances like dishwashers this evening, at least until 7 p.m.

And about a half hour after that, a third tweet said, “Thank you, Albertans! Your energy conservation efforts continue to make a difference.”

 

During the 4 o’clock hour, wind generation was hovering around 40 megawatts. At 4:41, wind was producing 39 megawatts, or 1 per cent of the 3,853 megawatts of installed wind capacity. Of Alberta’s 38 wind farms, 24 were producing zero power, and eight were producing only one megawatt.

 

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Power generation in Alberta at 4:41 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 28. MC is maximum capacity, in megawatts. TNG is total net to grid, and DCR is dispatched and accepted contingency reserve. Alberta Electric System Operator

 

While solar had been having a good day, running at 1.072 out of 1,291 megawatts, solar production would start to plummet at about 5:30 p.m. Travers, the largest solar farm in Canada, was producing its full capacity at 466 megawatts throughout the day on Monday. But at 5:27 p.m. on Sunday, dolar production started to drop rapidly as the sun started going down. Thus, with the pattern set to repeat on Monday, solar would fall off while wind was still down and the Intertie with British Columbia was still an issue. At 4:41, there were only 3 megawatts flowing between the provinces.

During this time, Alberta saw its pool power price hit $997.50 at 4:57 p.m., with a maximum limit of $1000 per megawatt-hour.

The AESO website indicated two more grid-scale batteries, each 20 megawatts, have been added to the Alberta grid. The are eReserve4 and eReserve6. Out of the 130 megawatts of grid-scale batteries, at 6:02 p.m., eReserve3 was providing 1 megawatt, and eReserve6 was producing 2 megawatts. According to Dispatcho.app, the Summerview battery was called into service the minute the alert was issued, and ran for a full hour at its maximum 10 megawatt capacity before ending its contributions. eReserve 3 also went into service the minute the alert was declared, but only provided 3 megawatts out of its 20 megawatt capacity. By 6:06 p.m., only one battery, Summerview, was listed as having any power available for the dispatchable contingency reserve. The remainder were showing zeros.

By 6:08 p.m., the intertie issue with British Columbia appeared to be repaired, as it shot up from 3 megawatts to 319 megawatts. And just in time, too, as that was almost exactly the amount of power solar had dropped in the previous hour, down to 730 megawatt.

All of this took place one day after Texas issued a similar “conservation appeal,” essentially a grid alert, for the same reasons. It was hot, wind power generation had flatlined, and the sun going down meant solar generation would soon drop off the grid.

Electricity conservation tips the AESO lists include:

  • Turn off unnecessary lights and electrical appliances
  • Minimize the use of air conditioning/space heaters
  • Delay the use of major power-consuming appliances such as washers, dryers and dishwashers until after peak hours
  • Use cold water for washing clothes—most of the energy used goes to heating the water (only running full loads helps too)
  • Delay charging electric vehicles and/or plugging in block heaters
  • Cook with your microwave, crockpot or toaster oven instead of the stove
  • Limit the use of kitchen or bathroom ventilation fans
  • Use motion-detector lights in storage areas, garages, and outdoors when possible
  • Work on a laptop instead of a desktop computer (laptops are more energy-efficient than desktop units)

UPDATE:

The grid alert ended at 8:23 p.m., according to the AESO.

 

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