The extreme cold weather we’ve seen in the Pontiac and across Québec over recent weeks has contributed to a major spike in power consumption, which is currently putting an intensive strain on Hydro-Québec’s network. The cold is the main factor for the consumption which peaked last Friday (January 21, 2022) across Québec.
Hydro-Québec is now asking residents to reduce the amount of electricity they consume, especially during typical peak hours, such as 6am to 9am, and 4pm to 8pm.
’’We call them points, or peak hours, meaning everyone is consuming electricity at the same time and in such a way that it’s like everyone’s caught in traffic during rush hour,’’ said Cendrix Bouchard, Hydro-Québec’s communications agent (tranlsated). ’’Heating seems to be the top contributor during peak hours, but we understand that when its cold out its not easy to turn down the heat especially when working from home. However, it would make a huge difference if residents can lower their thermostats by half or even by a full degree or two, even if its just in room that aren’t in constant use.’’
The pandemic has also had an impact on consumer habits. Contrary to electricity usage during cold waves in the past, many people are now working from home, meaning their power consumption is no longer limited to specific peak hours.
’’During the first year of the pandemic, we were able to efficiently measure how much power was being used, because we could refer to our yearly previsions that are filed with the régie de l’énergie, but now it’s much harder to analyze because these new levels of electricity usage have become the new norm,’’ Bouchard said (translated). ’’During the first year, we saw a steep household increase of about 2 to 4 per cent as compared to before the pandemic, but we don’t necessarily know if people are working from home or if there’s school. We can’t forget that at the beginning, school was closed, and then it opened and closed again, basically all we know is that there has been a 2 to 4 per cent increase and it’s here to stay.’’
On top of general heating, appliances that use hot water seem to be another factor using up a lot of energy. More details on the electricity usage can be found on Hydro-Québec’s Website.
The full (French-language) interview with Hydro-Québec’s communications agent, Cendrix Bouchard, is available here.