Alberta on the verge of the rotational blackout? See how Saskatchewan helped Alberta

Saskatchewan's Assistance to Alberta during Rotational Blackout Threat

Alberta on the verge of the rotational blackout? See how Saskatchewan helped Alberta

Get an overview of the situation in Alberta

The winter season has reached its peak in western Canada in January. Some neighbourhoods, including Alberta, faced extreme cold that impacted their power generation capacity. The situation worsened, so Alberta utility providers had to issue an alert on 13th January regarding the possible power outage.

How did such a scenario come across? Alberta's energy is a mix of self-generated power and imported power. The consistently dropping temperature led to an upward movement in Alberta's electricity demand graph. Because of the extremely cold conditions, their grids became unstable and could not produce enough electricity to meet the rising demands.

As half of Western Canada is facing the winter's wrath, it has become difficult for Alberta to import energy from these regions, causing a limited supply.

Know how Saskatchewan assisted Alberta during the possible power outage

When Alberta was on the verge of experiencing a prolonged power outage, Saskatchewan offered its helping hand. Saskatchewan is one of Alberta's power-providing partners.

As soon as the emergency alert was issued in the region, Saskatchewan stepped in to help the region avoid rotational blackouts by offering 153 Megawatts of electricity on the weekend. 

In a post to X on 13th January, Premier Scott Moe mentioned that Saskatchewan's power offer is a mix of energy generated from SaskPower's natural gas and coal-fired power plant, proving that natural gasses and coal are still reliable energy sources.

How did this help alleviate power outages in Alberta?

Saskatchewan's offer of 153 megawatts of electricity proved to be a boon for Alberta during high energy demand and potential power outages, helping stabilize the grid and ensure continuous electricity supply in the region.

Take a look at the points mentioned below to have a better understanding:

Helped to match the rising demand: By providing support for 153 megawatts of electricity, Saskatchewan added to Alberta's overall available supply of power. It helped to meet the high energy demands during the extreme cold weather.

Helped to avoid power outage: With the extra electricity from Saskatchewan, Alberta could prevent or at least reduce the chances for rotational blackouts to an extent.Rotational blackouts are implemented when there isn't enough supply to meet demand, so the additional power helps stabilize the grid and keep electricity flowing to consumers without interruptions.

Maintained Grid Stability: An insufficient supply of electricity to meet demand can strain the power grid and lead to instability or even grid failures. By providing additional electricity, Saskatchewan helped maintain stability in Alberta's power grid, preventing potential cascading failures or widespread outages.

Ensured ongoing service: The electricity from Saskatchewan ensured that life in Alberta did not stop. It ensured that essential services and critical infrastructure in Alberta continued receiving power without interruption. It is crucial during extreme weather events when heating and other utilities are vital for public safety and well-being.

What does the Premier have to say about the provided assistance?

Mr Scott Moe, a well-known Canadian Politician, had something to say about Saskatchewan's assistance to the neighbouring region of Alberta. He took some time to express his thoughts through a post on X (formerly Twitter). Let's see what he commented on this initiative:

"SaskPower is providing 153 MW of electricity to AB this evening to assist them through this shortage.

That power will be coming from natural gas and coal-fired plants, the ones the Trudeau government is telling us to shut down (which we won't)." — read the post of Premier Scott Moe.

Amidst Alberta facing an emergency, Moe took over X by writing an informative post and expressing criticism towards the federal government's energy decision.

His post clearly stated the source of the provided energy, i.e., natural gas and coal, which are usually categorized as 'harmful energy sources'. He took the opportunity to prove the federal's decision wrong. He emphasized that natural gases and coals are still a reliable energy source and can save an entire region from going into a prolonged blackout.

Take a look at the Emergency Notice from Alberta

On 13th January, around 7 in the evening, Alberta Emergency Management Agencies (AEMA) issued an alert regarding the power supply situation in the region. The extreme cold weather had put a strain on the grids, thus failing to meet the on-rise demand. It increased the chances of the entire region entering a 'Black phase'.

The emergency notice stated that the cold weather has caused havoc in Alberta, as the power supply is at stake. During such weather conditions, the risk of rotational outages increases. The one way the Alberta authorities could think of facing this challenge was to decrease power consumption significantly.

Through the notice, AEMA appealed to the residents to reduce their energy consumption by switching off unnecessary electrical appliances or devices. They were asked to avoid using major electrical appliances for a while to bring down the consumption rate.

It suggested the residents minimize the usage of space heaters, delay the EV charging, and limit their usage to essential ones.

The ultimate support of the Albertans and special assistance from Saskatchewan helped the Alberta authorities to face this challenge. Later the same night, the notice was taken down by the respective authorities.

What's going on the Saskatchewan's side?

Nature has not spared Saskatchewan from showing its extreme conditions. Saskatchewan is experiencing extreme cold weather, and that's a reason for increased power demand in that region, too. But SaskPower is already prepared for the worst.

SaskPower claims that they would never consider rotational blackouts as an option to meet electrical needs. They have never used it in their entire history and have kept it as a last option to face such a situation.

Its decision to share power with Alberta cost Saskatchewan some dollars, but not too much. Saskatchewan, too, had to purchase 292 Megawatts of electricity from Manitoba to keep the lights on. That's 139 Megawatts more than what it had exported to Alberta. Taking lessons from Alberta, Saskatchewan is determined to avoid placing itself in such a situation. It plans to establish Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) to provide baseload power. Baseload power is the minimum electricity required to fulfil the essential electricity needs in the region.

Let's talk about the main problem – The Extreme Cold

Since the second week of January has started, it has brought difficulties for many parts of Canada. Western regions like Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba are facing an immense temperature drop recorded at -400 C. The weather has turned coldest to the extent that it poses challenges like power shortages in the affected regions.

The downfall in temperature is not just causing power shortages but also problems like the bursting of pipes in areas like the City of Regina and is also affecting traveling by either causing delays or canceling flights.

This situation still happens in areas like Collin Bay and Eureka with -32o C and -42.8o C, respectively. However, in some regions like Maple Creek and Bonilla Island, the situation improves with time as the current temperatures are -1.4o C and 8.6o C, respectively.

Our Final Thoughts!

From our perspective, Saskatchewan's swift assistance of 153 megawatts of power to Alberta during the ongoing energy crisis signifies the importance of inter-provincial cooperation in mitigating a crisis like this.

Premier Scott Moe's favoritism for Saskatchewan's energy sources highlights the necessity of reliable infrastructure. This collaboration exemplifies the resilience required to overcome the challenges of extreme weather conditions. As winter persists, precautionary measures and innovation remain crucial for ensuring a stable energy supply across Canada.

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