For the fourth time in as many days, and the second time in 17 hours, Canada’s most energy-rich province, by far, again found itself in an electrical crisis, short of energy.

The Alberta Electric System Operator declared its fourth “grid alert” at 8:00 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 15, less than 10 hours after the end of the third alert.

https:/twitter.com/theAESO/status/1746913141127344234?s=20

“The AESO has declared a Grid Alert due to extreme cold, and several power facility outages,” the AESO’s post on X said.

The difference is that this alert was not during the evening peak and on a weekend, but during the morning of a workday.

By 9:05 a.m., the alert was over. At that time, the numbers appeared had improved. Alberta was actually exporting 93 megawatts to British Columbia and 25 to Montana, while Saskatchewan was sending 92 to Alberta. That soon reversed for Montana, and a few minutes later Montana was sending Alberta five megawatts.

 

The Dispatched Contingency Reserve (DCR) was at 517 megawatts, based on an internal load of 11,381 megawatts and generation of 11,407 megawatts.

Unlike previous days where wind was minimal or even flatlined (it hit zero megawatts the morning of Jan. 14), wind was producing 564 megawatts. And solar was on the board, at 121 megawatts and rising. Of the 45 wind farms in Alberta, 33 were producing power, despite temperatures ranging from -31 C at Pincher Creek and Vulcan, -32 C in Lethbridge, Brooks and Drumheller, -33 C in Medicine Hat, and -37 C in Skiff. Wind power production coming online on Monday is in sharp contrast to Thursday evening, when nearly every wind farm shut down as temperatures approached -30 C. Below that temperature, cold brittle behaviour of materials can significantly weaken them, running the risk of catastrophic failure.

The X post from the AESO warned the province wasn’t out of the woods, yet. “The Grid Alert has ended as increasing wind and solar generation have created some relief on the system. Please continue conservation efforts during peak hours of 4-7 p.m. as extreme cold continues to challenge all of us in Western Canada,” it said.

 

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