Heat wave leads to more power use in BC

The sustained province-wide heat wave is having an impact on electricity demand.
On Saturday evening, BC Hydro recorded an increase of 15 per cent in the peak hourly load over Saturday last week. The peak hourly load – the highest hourly demand observed throughout the day – was 861 megawatts higher than the previous Saturday. On Sunday, there was an increase of 10 per cent, or 617 megawatts, in the peak hourly load over the previous Sunday.
The increases are more than the equivalent of running an additional generating unit at the Mica Dam and generating station – one of the largest generating stations in the province.
BC Hydro expects the higher-than-normal electrical demand to continue throughout the week as temperatures in the province climb. 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. 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:

  • Keep the blinds down: shade your windows and block up to 65 per cent of the heat;
  • Use a ceiling fan — ceiling fans are the most efficient option for cooling. Ensure the fan is rotating counter-clockwise;
  • Keep the clothes dryer off — hang your laundry to dry and avoid the clothes dryer to keep unnecessary heat out of your house;
  • Cook outside — use the barbeque to cook outside to reduce the use of your stove or oven; and
  • Take shorter, cooler showers.