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Cold snap causes record-breaking hourly electricity demand, says BC Hydro

British Columbians consumed 11,300 megawatts in one hour Friday night

B.C. homes were working hard to stay warm this weekend and BC Hydro has the numbers to prove it.

The electric utility company said British Columbians consumed 11,300 megawatts in one hour on Friday night (Jan. 12), the highest amount on record. Saturday night saw major numbers too, with peak hourly consumption coming in at 11,000 megawatts.

Both nights surpassed the previous record of 10,977 megawatts set in December 2022.

To put things in further perspective, BC Hydro said the peak hourly use recorded on Friday was 30 per cent higher than the Friday before.

The jump in demand was, of course, the result of an extreme cold snap that swept over B.C. and much of Canada this weekend. Numerous parts of the province set temperature records, with daily lows reaching into the -30s and -40s C and wind chill making the outdoors feel even colder.

Things were even worse in Alberta, where temperatures dropped lower and the province issued a critical emergency alert on Saturday night urging residents to reduce their electricity consumption to prevent large-scale power outages. BC Hydro said it was able to lend a hand by exporting 200 megawatts to the neighbouring province.

The utility company said in a statement Sunday that its operations have been impacted by ongoing drought conditions in B.C., but that it had be planning for an event such as this weekend and was able to keep up as a result. It said it expects demand to stay high for several days as temperatures remain low, but that consumption will no longer be reaching record-breaking levels.

READ ALSO: Extreme cold persists in Prairies and B.C., as storms hit Eastern Canada

Black Press Media Staff

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