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FortisBC shatters record peak summer demand for power

FortisBC dams on Kootenay River are generating power to assist with the company's record-breaking demand for power. — FortisBC photo

In a media release Tuesday, FortisBC said the power company hit a new summer record for peak hourly demand on our electric system Monday.

“The peak load was 735 megawatts,” a FortisBC media rep said in an emailed statement.

“This exceeded the record set the previous day, which was 673 megawatts.”

“By comparison, previous to this heat wave, the record peak summer demand was 651 megawatts, set July last year,” FortisBC added.

“We expect to surpass that (Tuesday).”

FortisBC said the overall system was able to handle to load while crews responded to small, isolated outages that are occurring when the system within a neighbourhood becomes overloaded from high demand.

“This is much like tripping a breaker in your house -- when the system is overloaded, a fuse will trip and need to be manually reset by crews,” FortisBC said.

To avoid this in your neighborhood, FortisBC said it’s important to be mindful of energy use and prioritize the appliances you need the most.

Some specific steps people are encouraged to take are:

  • Setting air conditioners to come on two to three degrees higher. FortisBC recommends 25 degrees Celsius.
  • Waiting until later in the evening to use other high energy appliances like ovens, dishwashers and clothes dryers.

Reducing the use of heat-producing appliances. For example, use a microwave or BBQ instead of a regular oven and hang dry clothes rather than using the dryer.

FortisBC is monitoring the system closely to detect any issues early and have crews on standby to respond to outages.

 In the event there is an outage, we encourage people have a plan to stay safe in the extreme weather, including being aware of cooling centres in their communities. If there is an unexpected power outage, you can check the status at

FortisBC has some tips to help customers stay cool and avoid higher than expected power bills.

  • Cooling only the rooms you’re using.
  • Keeping the windows, curtains and blinds closed on sun-facing windows.
  • Increasing the settings on your thermostat and cooling only when you are at home and awake.
  • Setting overhead fans to counter-clockwise.
  • Hanging laundry outside to dry.
  • Turning the pilot light off on natural gas fireplaces and having it relit in the fall by a licensed gas contractor with your annual furnace maintenance.
  • Running your dishwasher and other heat-producing appliances during cooler parts of the day.