Did You Know?
Canada's electricity grid
According to the Canadian Electricity Association, Canada’s electricity grid was built for a population of about 20 million, but is today servicing around 35 million people. Provinces across Canada, including Alberta, are working to reinforce their aging electric systems so they can continue to provide customers with reliable power.
Keeping costs low
A reliable transmission system keeps costs low by connecting diverse sources of power generation to the grid. Transmission costs make up less than 20 per cent of the average residential utility bill. Generation costs – the cost of actually creating power – make up the largest portion of a bill, at more than 50 per cent. The transmission system always hooks up the lowest priced generator to the grid first, so generators compete to provide Albertans with cost-effective electricity.
Modern technologies, like digital recording devices, are a large drain on the power system. Some home entertainment configurations use more power than a new refrigerator. The average home has more and more gadgets continuously drawing power from the grid. Transmission lines bring power from where it's created to where it's needed so you can power your quality of life.
Peak electricity demand
Alberta marked a new peak electricity demand record on November 21, 2013 as residents across the province turned to the power grid to beat the cold. The transmission system works behind the scenes 24 hours a day so your comfort is uncompromised despite the heat of summer or the chill of winter.
The amount of energy used to power home electronics in residences across Canada more than doubled between 1990 and 2007. The majority of Canadian homes have more than one television and more than a quarter of households used at least three sets in 2007. TVs, DVD players and other electronic devices are drawing more and more power from the grid on a continual basis.
'Instant on' electronics
The average four-person family in Alberta today has 20 'instant-on' electronics such as laptops, DVD players, music device chargers and cell phone chargers. This is in addition to the other appliances necessary to run a home – fridges, stoves, microwaves, washers and dryers – all of which require a reliable supply of electricity.
The average elementary school in our province uses 21,250 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity a month. That's more than a city block of 20 houses uses in a month. Technology has advanced in schools across Alberta. Interactive whiteboards, computer labs and laptops all require power to run. Transmission lines bring the power from where it's generated to where it's needed.
Adding wind power to the grid
Since the energization of AltaLink's Southwest 240 kV transmission line, Albertans now have access to twice as much clean, green wind power. Transmission lines make up Alberta's electric highway, linking the places where power is generated to where power is used. AltaLink's transmission system connects Alberta's wind power to the electric grid, allowing you to power your homes, farms and businesses with renewable energy.
Essential services that are critical to Albertans, such as hospitals, rely on large amounts of power. On average, hospitals use 1,875,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity a month. That's enough to power more than 3,000 typical homes for a month. Transmission lines transport the power supply hospitals need.
Alberta's electricity imports
In 2011, Alberta imported nearly thirty times the amount of power it exported. Alberta depends on its transmission connections with British Columbia and Saskatchewan to meet its demand for electricity.