B.C. records record power usage amid blast of Arctic weather

A blast of icy weather across British Columbia has caused a record surge in electricity use, according to BC Hydro.

The Crown corporation says B.C. set a new record for peak hourly demand on Monday, when consumers used 10,302 megawatts of power in a single hour.

That beats a previous record set on Jan. 3, 2017, when electricity usage peaked at 10,194 megawatts.

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“With below-freezing temperatures and more snow expected over the coming days, the demand for electricity is expected to remain high, and BC Hydro is expecting peak loads between 9,800 and 10,600 megawatts,” the company said in a media release.

“Monday’s peak load is 16 per cent higher than the previous week.”

Much of British Columbia remained under extreme cold or Arctic outflow warnings on Tuesday.

Areas of the Interior, including Prince George and Fort Nelson, remain under an extreme cold warning and are being advised of wind chill values down to -40.

Areas under an Arctic outflow warning, including the Fraser Valley and Sea-to-Sky region, were told to prepare for wind chill values of -20, while temperatures down to -7 C were forecast for the Vancouver area.

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BC Hydro says British Columbians tend to use the most power on weekday evenings, when people return home from work and turn up the heat, make dinner and do laundry.

It says residential power use climbs by 88 per cent on average during colder, darker months.

Power company FortisBC says it sees natural gas consumption triple in the winter months, while electricity usage can climb by as much as 80 per cent.

“That means any heat lost is also money lost,” said the company.

“Draftproofing and sealing leaks, usually around windows and doors, as well as turning down the heat in unused rooms, have the most potential to save on space heating.”

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Both agencies are offering tips to help consumers cut down on their winter power usage.

BC Hydro advises people to leave their thermostats at 16 C overnight, 21 C while doing passive activities such as watching TV, and 18 C when being active at home.

FortisBC advises the use of programmable thermostats to reduce power consumption and to avoid heating rooms that aren’t in use.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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