Recently, as the true cold of the Prairie winter set in, SaskPower hit a significant milestone by breaking the record for peak power use in the province. According to a media release from the Crown corporation, Jan. 11th’s peak load reached 3,640 megawatts. Last winter’s peak load, on Jan. 8, 2015 was 3,628 megawatts.
SaskPower President and CEO Mike Marsh attributed the record-breaking power consumption to the mild temperatures that characterized early winter and a growing demand resulting from an increase in the number of customers. In 2015, 8,300 new residential, commercial and industrial customers were added.
SaskEnergy has also seen significant growth in demand this year, though not quite on the scale that SaskPower did. Since 2008, the company, which provides natural gas services throughout Saskatchewan, has seen its customer base grow by 50,000. The last time SaskEnergy reached peak demand was a day-long period on Dec. 6, 2013, at 1.24 petajoules, or approximately 3.4 million kilowatt hours (kWh).
However, winter gas consumption for the current heating season is down about 12 per cent; something the company attributes to a warmer than average fall and winter so far, leading to less natural gas use.
“There’s definitely been an increase over the last five years,” said Vanessa Gooliaff-Beaupre, supervisor of media and government relations with SaskEnergy. “There has been growth in residential, business and industrial demand.”
In 2015 in particular, SaskEnergy saw its customer base grow a great deal, adding nearly 5,100 new customers. This increase brought the company’s customer base to a total of 385,000.
“Large industrials are the fastest-growing customer group by volume, driven by oilfield growth, potash mining expansions and greenfield developments and power generation,” wrote Gooliaff-Beaupre in an email correspondence with the Mercury. “From 2009 to 2016, we’ve seen an increase by 48 per century of natural gas being moved around the province to meet customers’ growing needs.”
Gooliaff-Beaupre asserted that SaskEnergy is continually working on increasing system capacity to accommodate the increasing need for natural gas services throughout the province. Evidence of this growth in capacity is as close to home as Weyburn, where there is a mobile compressor station, just north of the city, installed to direct gas supplies to where there is a