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Extreme weather a growing risk to Canada’s electricity grid: experts

By District Energy posted 01-18-2024 15:35


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A series of electricity grid alerts in Alberta during the deep freeze last week made headlines across the country, but experts say power systems all across North America are increasingly at risk of being overloaded during severe weather.

Rob Thornton, president and CEO of the International District Energy Association, said grid alerts are worrisome for the public but added it’s important to understand that the risk of a catastrophic grid failure remains exceptionally low.

“The grid in North America is really reliable, it really is. It’s an amazing engine and machine,” he said.

Still, he said events like those experienced in Alberta last weekend show the importance of developing policies that will ensure a resilient and reliable electricity system to 2050 and beyond. This will include finding the proper balance between dispatchable and intermittent sources of electricity, investing in additional capacity to meet growing demand, building more inter-jurisdictional connections and more.

“These events (grid alerts) cause, I don’t know if anxiety is the right word, but certainly awareness,” Thornton said.

“Mother Nature is showing some fangs from time to time.”

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