Operational update

Heat wave leads to record-breaking electricity use

VANCOUVER — BC Hydro broke the record for summer power consumption Monday evening when peak hourly demand – the hour that customers use the most electricity – reached more than 7,800 megawatts.

The recent extended heat wave across B.C. has led to increased electricity demand across the province. Monday’s demand record represents a 4 per cent increase over the peak hourly demand last Monday when temperatures were already quite high and 18 per cent over the same day last year.

Demand for power this month has been the highest BC Hydro has ever seen in July. This month had the most days ever – 14 days – with peak hourly demand exceeding 7,000 megawatts. This is a continuation of a trend of higher demand in July as a result of climate change. From 2015 to 2017, there was an average of 8.7 days that exceeded a peak hourly demand of 7,000 megawatts. That is more than five times the average from the previous five years (2010 to 2014).

The increase in electricity use is attributed to customers turning on fans and air conditioners (A/C), and refrigeration units working harder to stay cool. Earlier this month, BC Hydro issued a new report Cold comfort: the rising use (and cost) of air conditioning in B.C. revealing that A/C use in British Columbia has more than tripled to 34 per cent since 2001. This upward trend is expected to continue as 25 per cent of British Columbians are considering purchasing an air conditioner this summer.

The new summer record breaks the previous record of more than 7,500 megawatts that was set on Aug. 28, 2017 by almost 300 megawatts. On Jan. 3, 2017, BC Hydro recorded the highest ever power consumption of 10,194 megawatts.

B.C. is fortunate to have a large, clean hydroelectric system that can be counted on at all times of the year to respond within seconds to changes in electricity demand that occur when temperatures reach extreme highs or lows.

Contact:
BC Hydro Media Relations
p. 604 928 6468