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Alberta faced with rotating blackouts

Staff writers
July 10, 2012 — High temperatures lead to rotating electricity blackouts across Alberta.

Alberta statistics
Alberta statistics

Record heat and high humidity has forced electric utilities in Alberta to implement rotating blackouts.

Tim LeRiche is with Epcor Power and says they are responding to a directive from the Alberta Electric System Operator in an effort to maintain the power supply.

"The way we do that in Edmonton is through rotating outages and we expect those outages will be about an hour in duration and that will continue until the situation has stabilized," explains LeRiche.

Edmonton reached a high of 33.1 degrees on Monday and hot temperatures are expected to continue for much of this week.

"The last time the city has been this warm was back on September 23, 2009, when temperatures soared to 33.5 degrees," says Brian Dillon, a meteorologist at The Weather Network.

It's a similar story in Calgary and Lethbridge, where rotating blackouts are also in place to reduce power consumption and the strain on the grid.

Drivers urged to exercise caution as blackouts may affect traffic lights
Drivers urged to exercise caution as blackouts may affect traffic lights

Officials say it's not clear if rotating blackouts were responsible for a brief power outage at the Calgary Stampede Monday.

The Skyride stopped in its tracks, forcing workers to fire up a generator to get people off the ride safely. Emergency officials say there were no reports of injuries.

Albertans are encouraged to continue reduce power consumption when they can.

"If there are lights in the house that shouldn't be on, turn them off. If there are jobs that require electricity that can be done later, delay it. Every little bit helps," says LeRiche .

Meanwhile, police have closed a main highway in northern Alberta as the heat and dry conditions fuel an out of control wildfire.

The Mackenzie Highway, which is about 900 km north of Edmonton, has been closed due to heavy smoke.

With files from The Canadian Press

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