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Alberta Heat Breaks Record In Edmonton

Albertans who lost sleep tossing and turning in the heat can look forward to a good night's sleep Wednesday as temperatures begin to dip down to normal.

Soaring temperatures Monday and Tuesday set records in some Alberta towns and cities, including Edmonton, as the heavy humidity pushed temperatures well into the high 30s and low 40s.

The heat wave fuelled a record summer demand for electricity, triggering rolling blackouts in parts of the province.

Epcor announced it would start rotating power outages in Edmonton on Tuesday afternoon, to reduce power consumption.

A combination of high temperatures, maintenance of generators, a transformer unexpectedly going out of service and low wind energy generation resulted in the need for load shedding, said Epcor.

The Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) issued a public appeal to Albertans to reduce power use on Tuesday as extreme heat increased demand.

AESO said wind generation of energy was very low and it was also importing electricity from B.C. and Saskatchewan to meet demand.

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NDP critic David Eggan told the Calgary Herald the rolling blackouts are a "double whammy," claiming that in addition to the power losses consumers will likely be hit with higher electricity prices.

"How embarrassing. It’s one hot day and the lights go out," Eggen said. "Clearly this deregulated market just gives us nothing but pain. We end up with high prices on our power bills and they can’t keep the lights on."

According to the Herald, the spot price of electricity hit the $999.99 price cap in the hours leading up to the blackouts, and stayed there past supper time.

AESO forecaster John Esaiw told the Herald, however, that the blackouts had nothing to do with a deregulated market.

"This is a failure of a transformer at a sub-station, which could happen at any time regardless of a regulated market or not," he said.

Esaiw told the Globe and Mail that flood-affected areas in the province, like Calgary and High River, did not experience power loss, nor did hospital and emergency services.

“It’s just a matter of the hot weather and extreme temperatures, it has nothing to do with the wealth of the province or improper maintenance,” Mr. Esaiw told the Globe and Mail.

The last time there were rolling blackouts in Alberta was July 9, 2012.

The soaring temperatures also set a weather record in Edmonton, where it has never felt hotter than it did Tuesday.

Global News meteorologist Nicola Crosbie said the mercury rose to 33 degrees, but with humidity it felt more like 43 degrees.

“We don’t issue humidex advisories in Alberta too often,” Dan Kulak, warning preparedness meteorologist for Environment Canada told the Edmonton Journal.

“We put these out when a combination of temperature, heat and humidity gives a feel of 40 degrees.”

The previous record high for Edmonton on July 2nd was 36.7 degrees back in 1924.

In Calgary, the peak temperature reached at the airport was 32.8 degrees and at Canada Olympic Park the temperature hit 34.8 degrees. Combined with the humidity, it felt like 40 degrees.

However, it was not enough to break the July 2, 1924 record of 33.3 degrees.

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