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Central Okanagan  

Power usage peak

This past week's cold snap set record breaking hydro use numbers across the province.

On Monday Dec. 1 alone, BC Hydro saw province-wide electricity demand increase to 9,581 megawatts, just under the top number set in November 2006 of 10,113 megawatts.

The same day, power use also peaked in the Okanagan, with BC Hydro customers in West Kelowna, Peachland, Vernon, Lake Country, Armstrong and Oyama cranking up the heat.

BC Hydro spokesperson Jennifer Walker-Larsen says Okanagan residents used 224 megawatts of the 9,581 used in BC.

Although that number may seem relatively small when compared to the entire province, as much of the Okanagan is under FortisBC's service, it was 17 per cent higher than last year's daily average.

Hydro use typically spikes when it is very hot and when it is very cold and Walker-Larsen says the numbers this week are comparable to a very hot summer day.

Despite the numbers being much higher than the average, BC Hydro assures its customers they have the capacity for these spikes and there is no fear of system failure.

As a way to keep their service levels up and deal with the province's ever increasing demand , BC Hyrdo is currently installing two new generating units at the Mica Generating Station, one of the largest generating facilities in BC Hydro’s system.

Mica was originally designed to hold six generating units, but only four were installed when the station was constructed in the 1970s.

These two new units will provide an additional 1,000 megawatts of capacity to the system. The fifth unit will be online before the end of the year. The sixth unit is currently under construction and will be in-service in late 2015.

As increased hydro use also means increased cost to users. BC Hydro also has some tips to offset heat requirements and save money on power use.

  • Washing clothes in cold water.
  • Turning off the "heat dry" function on the dishwasher.
  • Using a programmable thermostat to heat their house only when they are home.

For additional tips, visit bchydro.com/winter.

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