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BC Hydro breaks all-time high for electricity demand

Last Updated Jan 4, 2017 at 4:28 pm PDT

(iStock Photo)

Previous record was set in November of 2006

BC Hydro says usage tends to go up about 88 per cent, on average, during the winter

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – BC Hydro had broken their all-time record for electricity usage in one hour, as a cold snap continues to grip the province.

The power utility says between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. Tuesday, consumption peaked at 10,126 megawatts, breaking the old record of 10,113 megawatts during the same hour period set Nov. 29, 2006. The difference between the old and new hourly record is nearly the amount of electricity as one home uses in a year.

“BC Hydro records the highest demand for electricity in the winter months between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. on weekday evenings. This is when the majority of British Columbians come home, turn up the heat, switch on the lights, do laundry and make dinner,” BC Hydro wrote in a statement.

Demand for electricity is expected to stay high as temperatures remain well below the freezing mark for the next little while. BC Hydro says it is preparing for peak loads between 9,800 and 10,200 megawatts this week alone. During colder, darker months usage, on average, goes up by 88 per cent, the company says.

Fortis BC has also been experiencing a spike in gas usage.

“The demand for natural gas has almost doubled in the Lower Mainland,” Fortis spokesperson Amy Bunton says.

Customers who pay month-to-month will of course see their bill go up if they use more power, but those on the equal payment plans, which give you the same bill each month, are safe, at least for now.

“For customers next year on the equal payment plan, it will be based on this year’s usage, so the cold snap will impact their bills,” Bunton says.

Fortis encourages customers to get their appliances checked to make sure they are operating at peak energy efficiency to reduce consumption and lower costs.

Tips to save

  • Manage your thermostat. Lowering it by two degrees to save 5 per cent. Lowering it by five degree to save 10 per cent
  •  Unplug your second fridge and save up to $90 per year
  •  Unplug unused electronics and save $50 per year
  •  Wash laundry in cold water and save $27 per year
  •  Turn off unnecessary lights and save $12 per year