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ATCO Electric - Isolated Operations

ATCO Corporate Overview

Alberta-based ATCO Ltd., with more than 7,500 employees and assets of approximately $10.0 billion, delivers service excellence and innovative business solutions worldwide with leading companies engaged in Utilities (pipelines, natural gas and electricity transmission and distribution), Energy (power generation, natural gas gathering, processing, storage and liquids extraction), Structures & Logistics (manufacturing, logistics and noise abatement) and Technologies (business systems solutions).

ATCO Electric Overview 

Within the Utilities Group, ATCO Electric provides the safe, reliable delivery of electricity to homes, farms, and businesses over nearly two-thirds of the province of Alberta. Our customer base includes petroleum and forestry companies, farms, towns, cities, First Nations and Metis Settlements in over 245 communities. Through its subsidiaries – Yukon Electrical, Northland Utilities (NWT) and Northland Utilities (Yellowknife) – ATCO Electric also serves customers in Canada’s North.

Headquartered in Edmonton, ATCO Electric has 38 service offices serving nearly two-thirds of the province in northern and east-central Alberta.

ATCO Electric has been delivering electric energy to Albertans for nearly 80 years.

ATCO Electric at a glance

  1. more than 206,000 customers
  2.  more than 1,500 employees
  3. ~ 69,000 km of transmission and distribution power lines
  4. ~ 12,000 km of distribution power lines on behalf of Rural Electrification Associations
  5. 16 Isolated Community, Industrial Area and Telecom power plants.

Isolated Operations

ATCO Electric operates and maintains 15 natural gas and diesel-fuelled generating plants throughout northern and central Alberta, plus one hydroelectric plant located in Jasper National Park.  Each of these generating plants provide the sole source of electricity to the community they serve as well as telecom sites or industrial customers not connected to the Alberta Interconnected Electric System.

The 16 isolated generating plant stations contain a total of 47 generating units.  The generating units that ATCO Electric operate and maintains include hydro units, reciprocating natural gas units, reciprocating diesel gas units and gas turbines.  The total capacity of the 16 plants (47 generating units) is approximately 30 MW.  All plants are sized to ensure that, at a minimum, peak loads are served with the largest generating unit out-of-service.  The generating plants serve approximately 3,900customers with a non-coincident peak load of approximately 17,000 kW.

Additionally, ATCO Electric maintains a fleet of 11 emergency mobile generating units, providing emergency backup to the isolated generation plants. The mobile fleet is necessary to provide replacement generation for extended customer outages caused by fire, natural disasters, unexpected load growth, coincident unit outages (planned and unplanned), or failure of critical plant systems. 

Isolated Operations Overviewatco g.s.

  1. 16 Isolated Plants (47 units)
    1.  9 Community Plants
    2.  3 Industrial Area Plants
    3.  4 Telecom Plants
  2. Combined Capacity ~30Mw
  3. Combined Peak Load of ~18Mw
  4. 11 Emergency Mobile Units
  5. Annual Gross Production (2009)
    1. ~5,200   Mwh Hydro
    2. ~76,000 Mwh Natural Gas
    3. ~740,000 Diesel
    4. ~817, 699Mwh Total
  6. Emissions (2008)
    1. NOX – 1,392 Tonnes
    2. SO2 -  9 Tonnes
    3. C02 - 61,595 Tonnes


ATCO Electric has a corporate commitment to zero health, safety and environmental incidents.  To meet this commitment ATCO Electric is upgrading its portfolio of power plants so that infrastructure used to hold or convey contaminating liquids such as fuel, oil and glycol are provided with secondary containment vessels fitted with alarm and control switches to alarm and shut off fluid supply at source. Liquid containment infrastructure mitigates release exposure from bulk storage tanks, loading/unloading stations, fuel conveyance systems (pumps, pipes), day tanks, engine halls, and radiator buildings.  This program has been successful in containing several leaks which would have reached the earth using older designs.
In 2003, ATCO Electric embarked on a five-year project to remediate / reclaim contaminated generation sites (operating sites plus decommissioned sites).  Of the 103 sites, 77 were found to require remediation.  By volume of contaminated soil removed the project is at 75% completion and by number of sites, the project is 96% complete.

Astoria Power Plant Dam
Astoria Power Plant Dam (above)

Ft. Chipewyan Power Plant
Ft. Chipewyan Power Plant (above)

For more information about ATCO Electric and its operations, please visit www.atcoelectric.com.

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