Third electricity emergency alert issued this week in Alberta

Alberta's electricity operator issued its third electricity use alert of the week on Thursday — and, unusually, did it in the morning — but called it down a few hours later.

Typically, electricity consumption peaks when people arrive home from work and get to cooking, cleaning and recreating, so between 4 and 7 p.m., so the alerts are more likely to go out in evenings.

But by 8:15 a.m. Thursday, the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) issued an Energy Emergency Alert 1, or EEA 1, for the province.

It called it down at 11:15 a.m. but said it would be keeping a close eye on usage for the rest of the day.

A Level 1 warning means all available resources in the energy market are in use and reserves may soon need to be used, according to statement from AESO.

"Cold weather affecting the operations of some generation facilities and low wind in the province as electricity demand begins to ramp up this morning has prompted the AESO to activate an Energy Emergency Alert (EEA) 1," the statement reads.

Should the alert move up to Level 2, it would mean energy demands are still being met — but with the use of reserve energy by facilities in the province.

The agency says it issues Level 1 and 2 alerts a few times a year, when the temperatures veer into extreme cold or extreme heat.

It's far more rare to reach Level 3, when AESO says there's the possibility of power outages. 

AESO communications manager Tara de Weerd told The Homestretch this week that the last Level 3 alert was issued in July of 2013.

3rd electricity use alert this week

This is the third EEA warning issued by AESO this week.

On Monday, the province issued a Level 1 alert at about 6 p.m., then upgraded it to a Level 2 alert less than two hours later.

"What's important for Albertans to know is that the first two levels … are really about going through our reserves, and then when we hit an EEA 3, that's the only point in which … Albertans may lose power," said de Weerd.

Only about 13 per cent of electricity in the province is consumed by residences, said de Weerd. 

She says industrial consumers are a major draw on the grid.

That being said, AESO still encourages consumers to watch their electricity use when grid conditions are under an emergency state. 

This could mean switching off unnecessary lights and leaving the dishes or laundry for later.