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Another wild winter: A closer look at grid alerts

Mar 5, 2024, 16:54 PM

As Alberta hit record-setting low temperatures this winter, many customers had questions about Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) grid alerts and what their impacts might be.

Grid alerts are just one of the tools that the AESO uses to ensure Alberta’s power supply remains stable throughout the year, in all kinds of weather conditions. The goal is to maintain a balance between supply (electricity produced by generators) and demand (electricity used by customers).

The grid can be strained when demand for power outstrips the available supply for any reason, including extreme weather or unplanned outages at generation facilities. When this happens, the AESO will first use Alberta’s connections, or inter-ties, with neighboring provinces to import additional electricity to keep the system balanced. If imports are not enough, the AESO will try to reduce demand by asking customers to conserve energy, just as it did in January.

If the AESO is still unable to keep the system balanced, it may perform load shedding—controlled outages by electric utilities—to reduce grid strain and control supply.

FortisAlberta and your transmission provider work closely with the AESO to ensures these measures impact the fewest number of customers possible. Outages are generally short in duration (usually about 30 minutes), and they never target areas where hospitals and other essential services are located.

You can help make sure that Alberta’s grid remains reliable year-round by making energy conservation a habit; especially when it’s very hot or very cold outside. You can also do your part by watching for, and responding to, notifications from the AESO when challenging conditions occur.

For information on how to conserve energy, prepare for outages before they occur, access to our real-time outage map and more, visit

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