Peak Demand Management

McGill is enrolled in Hydro Québec’s Peak Demand Management (PDM) program. During extremely cold weather events, Hydro Québec will call for its clients to reduce power demand, thus reducing the strain on the province’s power infrastructure. Participating buildings will switch from the grid to a generator for their power and/or reduce their energy demand by reducing elevator operation or changing a control sequence. Changing a control sequence varies per building but may, for example, mean that floors will alternate when electric heating systems turn on and off to maintain space temperature while minimizing peak demand. See below the list of McGill buildings enrolled in the program this winter.


From December 1st to March 31st.

10 to 20 periods between 6 AM – 9 AM and/or 4 PM – 8 PM

Mondays through Fridays on extremely cold days (excludes December 24, 25, 26, and 31, January 1 and 2, as well as Good Friday and Easter Monday when they fall within the winter period)


List of buildings participating in Peak Demand Management program in 2023-2024. 

Building # Building name Change control sequence Reduce elevator operation (keeping at least one operational) Transfer building to generator 
177 Adams     X
168 Education   X X
239 Genome X X  
241 Life Sciences     X
130 Macdonald Engineering     X
118 Macdonald-Harrington     X
131 McConnell Engineering     X
157 McIntyre Garage     X
155 McIntyre Medical     X
197A Powerhouse     X
154 Strathcona Anatomy and Dentistry     X
240 Trottier X X  
229 Wong X    


If temperature in any space drops below/above predetermined parameters, heating/air conditioning will automatically kick in to get back to acceptable conditions.

All systems will return to normal mode outside of PDM periods.

At least one elevator will be kept running to maintain accessibility to the building.

There will be no change in animal labs, sequencer rooms, and other critical areas defined with building directors.

With the participation of:

Hydro Québec

McGill Utilities & Energy Management

McGill Building Operations

Building Directors

Background information

Québec’s power demand profile is atypical in that it peaks in the winter (as opposed to the summer for most North American jurisdictions) due to the high penetration of electrical heating on the market. During these events, Hydro Québec must purchase power at a hefty cost from neighbouring provinces and states. Further to being extremely expensive, electricity generated in other jurisdictions is much less clean than Québec’s energy mix. Building new electricity generation infrastructure (hydro dams or wind farms) isn’t in the interest of the province as such infrastructure would be grossly underutilized and would not be profitable on the long run. Demand-side management programs that call for end-users to reduce their demand are a much more effective and sustainable way to reduce the financial and environmental impacts of having to purchase power from other jurisdictions.

Performance of previous years

McGill has been participating in the PDM program since winter 2015/2016. During the previous three years, we were able to reduce our power demand from the grid around 3,000 kW per event, which is like shutting off around 2,000 electric baseboard heaters or stopping the charging of more than 400 electric vehicles.

Winter period Average power reduction per event Equivalent reducation in number of electric baseboard heaters turned off Equivalent reduction in number of electric vehicles unplugged from charger
2019-2020 3,384 kW 2,256 470
2020-2021 2,891 kW 1,927 402
2021-2022 2,684 kW 1,789 373
2022-2023 3,048 kW 2,032 423
Back to top