Electrical demand rises as frigid air washes over BC

The first wave of cold arctic air and snow has increased electricity demand in BC by 12 per cent.

On Tuesday, December 6, electricity demand peaked at 9,345 megawatts between 5 and 6 pm. This was 1,000 megawatts higher than the peak demand on Tuesday the week before.

BC Hydro records the highest demand for electricity in the winter months between 4 and 8 pm on weekday evenings. This is when British Columbians come home, turn up the heat, switch on the lights, do laundry and make dinner.

Demand for electricity is expected to remain high as the cold snap continues. BC Hydro is preparing for peak loads between 9,400 and 10,000 megawatts this week. The highest peak hourly demand was recorded on Nov. 29, 2006, when consumption reached 10,113 megawatts between 5 and 6 pm.

Residential energy consumption can increase, on average, by 88 per cent in the colder, darker months. BC Hydro is reminding customers there are simple ways to stay warm and save power during the winter:

  • Install a programmable thermostat to schedule specific times to heat a home;
  • Put on a sweater instead of turning up the temperature;
  • Unplug unused electronics and use an advanced power bar to manage standby power; and
  • Wash laundry in cold water.