Thousands of Canadians go without power during Alberta’s “brownout” as wind fails to show up

One of my favorite Substack accounts in Penguin Empire Reports. Last weekend, they wrote this fantastic piece about the blackouts that occurred in Alberta, Canada, on Friday, April 5, 2024.

While spring can mean flowers and sunshine for some, in Alberta, spring can still mean snow and freezing temperatures. While much of Alberta was waking up on Friday, April 5th, 2024, temperatures were just below freezing (approx -1C), with cloudy skies, light snow, and very low wind speeds. Here’s a screenshot of weather data from the Edmonton International Airport weather station.

Around the same time, Alberta’s grid operator (AESO) issued a grid alert — the second for the week — at 6:49am, warning that supply was “tight” and requested that customers conserve electricity.

Conditions rapidly deteriorated on the grid. Between ~ 8:53 and 9:16 am, Alberta’s grid could not meet electricity demand. There simply were not enough available generators online, so the grid had to load-shed, resulting in power outages for a rather rude awakening for thousands of residents. According to CBC news:

“Enmax turned off power to about 25,000 Calgary customers for about 14 minutes…Epcor shut off power to about 20,000 customers across Edmonton for less than 30 minutes… (and) about 15,000 customers in rural areas lost power, from the northeastern community of Conklin to the southern Alberta hamlet of Skiff.”

These power outages weren’t the result of a tree branch falling onto a transmission line or a drunk driver taking out a transformer.

So what happened?

Let’s set the stage…

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