Info bulletin

Soaring temperatures lead to increasing demand for power

VANCOUVER – BC Hydro expects provincewide electricity demand to reach record breaking highs for summer peak hourly demand this week. Increasing temperatures have resulted in a significant increase in overall provincial electricity use.

On Monday, BC Hydro recorded the highest peak hourly demand – the hour customers use the most electricity – of the summer at 7,297 megawatts. This represents an increase of 444 megawatts over the previous Monday. While BC Hydro has enough capacity available to serve the additional electricity load, the energy required to serve this increase in demand is equivalent to running four Ruskin generating stations at maximum capacity.

BC Hydro is anticipating peak hourly demand over the next few days to be between 7,500 and 7,800 megawatts – breaking the previous summer record of 7,468 megawatts set on Aug. 11, 2014.

Typically, during a heat wave, BC Hydro sees a spike in peak electricity demand as customers turn on fans and air conditioners to stay cool and refrigeration units work harder.

Although there is a significant increase in provincial electricity load during a sustained heat wave, BC Hydro still records the highest demand in the winter. The highest peak hourly demand ever was recorded on Jan. 3, 2017 when consumption reached 10,124 megawatts between 5 and 6 p.m. This is in contrast to utilities in California and Ontario, where the highest peaks are experienced in the summer months due to the widespread use of air conditioning.

There are a number of ways British Columbians can save money during the heat wave:

  • Close the drapes and blinds: shading windows can block out up to 65 per cent of the heat.
  • Out with the warm, in with the cool: position a fan by a window or door in the evening when temperatures are cooler to direct the cool air in.
  • Spin that fan: ceiling fans are the most efficient option for cooling. Ensure the fan is rotating counter-clockwise to help direct the cool air down.
  • Hang laundry to dry: avoiding the dryer will keep unnecessary heat out the house.
  • Opt for smaller appliances: use a microwave, crockpot or toaster oven to avoid the extra heat produced by larger appliances when preparing meals. 

BC Hydro Media Relations
p. 604 928 6468