Home / Blog / INCONVENIENT TRUTH: Alberta power grid barely avoids crash, nat gas saves the day

INCONVENIENT TRUTH: Alberta power grid barely avoids crash, nat gas saves the day

Jul 20, 2023Jul 20, 2023

Shaun Polczer is the Business Reporter for the Western Standard, based in Calgary. Formerly, a business reporter for the Calgary Herald, he has also held senior positions at the Daily Oil Bulletin, and the London Petroleum Economist.

Electrical lines: Job one for any Alberta premier is keeping the lights on. Energy security is what's at risk.

It was a close call.

And the warning lights are flashing after Alberta’s electricity grid barely avoided crashing on Monday, following a near perfect storm of high temperatures and low wind that forced the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) to issue a Level 3 power alert.

Add in repairs to the inter-tie with British Columbia and Albertans were relying almost exclusively on natural gas — supplemented with intermittent solar — to keep cool.

It ultimately saved the day.

And it could happen again on Tuesday, as the mercury climbs well into the 30Cs across much of Alberta. In a post on X, formerly Twitter, the AESO reminded Albertans to limit power use again today, between the peak hours of 4 and 7 pm.

“The AESO is asking people to reduce their electricity usage to balance out the system reliability and prevent more serious emergency measures.”

According to its website, those would include rotating power outages or so-called ‘brown outs’ as “the last option to maintain reliability.”

It comes amid a clamorous debate on the future of Alberta’s electricity grid — and Saskatchewan’s — after federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault’s proposed power rules that would force Alberta to shut down gas-fired power plants in favour of wind and solar by 2035.

In an exclusive interview with The Western Standard, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith called them “unrealistic” and “unachievable.”

“I think quite frankly it’s unachievable to have all industrial power, all heating, all transportation, all on a net-zero power grid by 2035. Unachievable. I don’t even want to pretend that it’s possible to do, because in the end our job is to make sure life is affordable for people.”

The latest numbers appear to bear that out. In fact, AESO said Alberta needs more natural gas generation — not less — to ensure a reliable and affordable grid.

“It is critical that Alberta add more base-load power from natural gas and other sources to our electricity grid to protect the reliability and affordability of power for Albertans,” it said in a statement.

It comes as Albertans are facing soaring power bills after what Smith blames on the former NDP government’s early retirement of coal plants, the last of which is to close this year.

Indeed, the pool price capped out at $999.99 per megawatt hour on Monday, which fell to around $50 by morning. That’s still 128% higher than a year ago, according to the latest national inflation numbers released on Aug. 15.

Alberta electricity prices spiked on Monday.

And it comes amid growing controversy over her government’s decision to impose a moratorium on renewable power approvals — not because it isn’t needed — but due to the lack of base load sources to back it up.

“We need to address intermittency so if we're bringing on intermittent unreliable power there has to be an equivalence of base-load power brought on, that’s what we have to figure out, what’s the mix, is how much intermittent unreliable power can we have, and how much baseline power do we need to commission,” Smith said.

Shaun Polczer is the Business Reporter for the Western Standard, based in Calgary. Formerly, a business reporter for the Calgary Herald, he has also held senior positions at the Daily Oil Bulletin, and the London Petroleum Economist.

That is the problem with wind and solar in Canada. During periods of high temperatures in the summer or cold temperatures in the winter there is a lull in wind and solar never produces what it is supposed to and doesn't work at night. This means that the only truly reliable forms of electricity generation is coal, natural gas, hydro-electric and nuclear power. So much for the future of wind and solar since it is so incredibly unreliable.

Look folks winter is coming. I know, like who needs winter, Anyways, here is the moral of the story, Without electricity I will freeze to death in the winter. Without electricity my natural gas heater will not work. I am guessing you are in the same boat. Enough of this idiocy, Without a stable electric grid we ill perish on the prairies.

Get back on coal and finding environmentally friendly methods of using it. The Idiot Squad / NDP never should have never transitioned away from it. Bureaucratic policy and pocket filling political agendas over brain cells was once again triumphant.

The moratorium on bird blenders is only “controversial” from the NDP/Lieberals/green-at-any-cost fools. This near emergency validates the “let us revisit this” decision.

Spending vast sums on the denial of common sense & reality while striving to achieve a very twisted political agenda, is nothing short of a CRIMINAL waste of taxpayers money. It would be interesting to see how many of these wind / solar farms would be built & maintained if the Bill Gates, Schwabs, John Kerry's, Clinton & Trudope's et all, were to use their own money. I think we all know the answer.

Too bad Alberta abandoned the coal/natural gas generation at Genesee, under the NDP. It was burning coal cleaner than just natural gas alone. Technology that we could be exporting around the world.

So, let me see if I have the math right. I have to pay full price for base load power generation and I have to pay full price for green intermittent unreliable power generation to keep the lights on. Net result, my power bill doubles. Here's a plan, we focus on building reliable base load power using energy available in Alberta, that's natural gas or coal, and work on making it cleaner with carbon capture and storage. The solutions are so obvious and simple. Oh, that's right Ottawa is involved.


It would be nice if an intrepid 'journalist' could investigate and let Albertans know just how many times our power grid stood on the brink since solar and wind power were foisted upon us.

Would also be nice to know how much it would have cost & saved Albertans if we had built a few gas or coal plants instead of fairy dust solar and wind farms.

Federal election cant come soon enough. If libtards win again gonna have move to a warmer country so I csn afford to live.

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