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Updated: 7th January 2019 09:16

Power prices spike as deep freeze envelopes province

Power prices are spiking as this week's cold snap has Albertans using a record amount of electricity.

Emergency alert was issued for Alberta as power reserve dipped below recommended levels

Albertans have used record levels of power this week to battle the cold, straining the province's power grid. (Alana Cole/CBC)

Power prices are spiking as this week's cold snap has Albertans using a record amount of electricity.

Power plants went offline on both Tuesday and Wednesday, and that resulted in the grid operator issuing an emergency alert as consumption peaked.

On Tuesday, three power plants went off-line, while one power plant went down on Wednesday. Wednesday’s alert lasted just 30 minutes.

Earlier this week, Albertans set a new record for power consumption: more than 10,600 megawatts.

As those levels were nearly reached again on both Tuesday and Wednesday, the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) issued alerts as the amount of reserve power fell below recommended levels.

Michael Law, a vice-president with AESO, said the supply-demand situation is tight this week, so while the alert is not a cause for concern, what's going on this week isn't good for the system.

"Our overall electricity infrastructure, whether it is the generation capacity or the transmission facilities within the province, are being strained and pushed to their limits," Law said.

It's also putting pressure on prices.

Several times this week, the price has hit the legally allowed limit of $1,000 dollars a megawatt — many times higher what residential customers pay.

Jim Wachowich with the Consumers Coalition of Alberta said that can be a concern if you're on a fluctuating monthly rate.

"If those periods are sustained, that can eventually start to show up in the price people are paying," he said.

Electricity consumption is expected to ease later this week, as temperatures rise.

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