May 17th, 2024

AESO mismanaged situation that prompted blackouts

By Lethbridge Herald on April 17, 2024.


Despite Premier Smith stating in a recent news briefing that the April 5th rotating blackouts were the result of not enough wind energy being online the reality is that the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) mismanaged this particular situation. As is predictable, the premier was dissing wind, building up fossil fuel generation and, in this circumstance, covering the AESO’s backside.

First, the grid system is not built backwards as the premier states. Wind/solar take priority when generation is available for a reason. These resources bid into the system at $0 per megawatt hour (bringing down the cost of our power) and are totally pollution free leaving our air, water, and soil clean after it has produced its energy. If a fossil fuel power plant could bid at $0 and be pollution free, we would also want that resource online as a priority too, but alas that’s not possible, is it?On April 5th there were 200 megawatts of wind operating. However, the 900 additional megawatts of wind that the AESO had forecast, but which did not materialize should have been backed up, as usual, by fossil fuel generation and it was to a degree. “Firm” generation that is always counted on by both the pPremier and the AESO unexpectedly went offline. When wind/solar come online and go offline they do so slowly; this does not happen in a sudden manner. 

When a fossil fuel plant trips offline it is an instantaneous loss of generation and there must be another plant immediately ready to take up the shortfall. Such was the case on April 5th. The AESO was relying on a “ firm” gas plant, and it tripped off. As such, there was an immediate loss of 395 megawatts and the AESO had not dispatched enough contingency reserve up take up that loss of capacity.

So, the long and the short of it is that the AESO mismanaged this situation. And, we all get it, mistakes happen, we learn from them and try to do better next time as the AESO always tries to do. However, the point is, own up to your mistakes, and don’t be deceitful by trying to place the blame on renewables.

Dale Johnson


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Guy Lethbridge

To utilize Dave Carpenter’s quote :

“try to ascertain if Premier Smith had changed course and attempted to do something ethical”

Don’t hold your breath ….

Southern Albertan

Again, the Smith/Parker UCP/TBA cannot be trusted.

Say What . . .

In 2016 the NDP moved to shut down 4 coal generator plants in Alberta, before the proper infrastructure to replace that energy was in place. It was a move to support the green energy push and appease the feds and environmentalists, due the province facing international scrutiny over our ‘tarsands’.
This is why we are where we are today. not because a pause was put on hold for new renewable green energy projects to prevent those projects being built in sensitive areas, or by mismanagement.
Can we stop the blame game? The issues were forecast over the last 2 twos and steps are being taken to resolve the issues.
“…“We have chosen to incentivize new investment in clean energy and improve Albertans’ health by eliminating dangerous air pollution,” Environment Minister Shannon Phillips told reporters…..
…..The government’s climate change plan aims to shut down all coal-fired plants in Alberta by 2030, but six newer facilities were previously allowed to operate until as late as 2061, leading their owners to call for compensation.
….The NDP government’s massive reforms to the power market, which also include a complete overhaul of the system, are designed to reduce price volatility for consumers while reducing emissions……
….Four companies — Enmax, Capital Power, TransCanada Corp. and AltaGas Ltd. — walked away from the power agreements when the province increased the carbon levy on large industrial emitters. They cited an opt-out clause that allows them to terminate the deals when a change in law makes the power pacts unprofitable or “more unprofitable.”
The province launched a lawsuit challenging the provision and would not rule out legislation to retroactively change language in the 16-year-old contracts, a possibility that drew condemnation from Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi and the local chamber of commerce…..
….The province has said consumers could be on the hook for $2 billion, though one government official said Thursday that estimate was for a “worst-case scenario.”……”
Large coal generators such as the Sheerness plant are shut down, along with many others and the last 2 remaining, have been off and on operations.
In 2014 coal power generators supplied 55% of Alberta’s electricity. I cannot remember the exact number we had operating in 2015 to 2016 but I believe it was 15-20 units in 5-6 locations. The last two remaining units are Units #1 and #2 at the Genesee Generation Station west of Edmonton.,coal%20plants%20in%20the%20province.
Solar and wind energy alone will never be able to replace our energy needs by themselves, and electric vehicles are only going to tax the grid further.
Lets not blame but move forward to resolve these issues constructively.


Don’t forget in your story who mandated the phaseout of coal generation … that’s right … Prime Minister Harper. But that was at a time before the Alberta government opposed everything legislated in Ottawa for the good of the nation.

But I think that’s Mr. Johnson’s point: only the ideological narrative matters.

And you do know why coal had to go, don’t you? (Hint – 1000 g CO2 per kWh generated).


Coal is bad, no argument with that!
Canada only emits 1.6% of the world GHG’s, China over 30%! If Canada shut down all fossil fuel vehicles, home heating using fossil fuels, and fossil fuel power generators at the very best we may get that down to 1% of the world GHG emissions.
China, the US and the EU emit almost 60% of the world GHG’s, yet Canada has been the focus of attacks for years. China or India get free passes! Ever wonder why?
I reiterate “Lets not blame but move forward to resolve these issues constructively.”


Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t you ‘blaming’ China – the people who make our stuff?

Since you seem to like percentages,
Canada 0.5% of world population, 1.6% of emissions.
China 18% of world population, 30% of emissions.
We out-emit China by double.

What this means, is that we have some responsibility to do our share in lowering emissions. Renewable energy is one part of the effort.


Spot on comments Sophie. Your response shows that you are diligent enough to keep well-informed and use your regularly sharp critical thinking skills to analyze topics. I appreciate the wealth of information that your brief remarks can provide to these discussions. And Keilan below also is correct with his reference to “what you hear”.

Fedup Conservative

There is a mountain of information on the internet if these fools would do the research but believing the lies these Reformers feed them is a lot easier, isn’t it?


You’re too kind, ReallyReally 🙂 There are a number of people here that offer thoughtful insights on issues – like yourself.


Hi R.U,
The reason you hear so much about Canada in terms of climate change is because that’s the country you live in. I hope that clears things up.

Fedup Conservative

Yet per capita we are one of the worse polluters in the world. Why don’t you do some research on what China is doing to help get control of their pollution. A cousin spent 14 years in China and 7 in South Korea building nuclear power plants for them to help them and they are doing far more than Alberta ever has.


how dare they shut down coal? and, i bet most egregious is that the bad ndp likely shut down “clean” coal. for shame.

Fedup Conservative

Of course anyone who knows anything about what Reformer Ralph Klein did to us with deregulation knows that Albertans were paying far more for cheap coal fired electricity than anyone else in the world, or didn’t you notice how your power bills tripled with the massive fees added to them ? Sophie is right it was Harper who did it, had you bothered to do any research instead of believing the lies these Reformers fed you, right?


The root cause is not the shut down of coal generation or the “unreliability” of renewables. It is the privatization of the electricity market long ago.

If it wasn’t for that, we wouldn’t have to be worried about generators shutting down production when renewable power is plenty and power is too cheap, because it isn’t profitable. Now the government has to artificially try to change the pricing scheme to make sure there is enough “base load”.

But some people still think “private companies are more efficient” and “privatization saves tax dollars”. But they don’t see how the companies are manipulating the markets to raise electricity prices and ends up costing everyone more. That’s really why we have new renewable energy production suspended…so the traditional players can keep making money and don’t have to worry about power being too cheap.

The good thing with high electricity prices is that many people are now getting solar panels. I am just waiting for mine to be installed. Regardless of environmental benefits, it just makes economic sense now with the high electricity prices.


great entry – thank you


Thank you for this post Dale. Yep, “However, the point is, own up to your mistakes, and don’t be deceitful by trying to place the blame on renewables.” is pretty much what our Governor, oops, Premier Smith would want them to say !!!


To clarify: I agree, what they claimed was the problem is what Smith would expect them to fabricate.

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