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The birds are back in town

June 14 2017, 13:33 PM

The birds are back in town

NB Power line technicians and other crews work alongside different types of nature within their day-to-day jobs. Trees, shrubs and even squirrels can interfere with power lines and other electrical structures. One of the main threats to energized equipment are birds, particularly ospreys, or larger birds of prey.

In order to ensure safe, reliable energy to our customers while also keeping osprey populations safe, NB Power follows an Avian Protection Plan (APP). The APP is designed to protect migratory birds by reducing the number of interactions birds make with electrical equipment. This is accomplished by identifying high-traffic osprey areas and modifying our structures with safer parts. The APP also directs maintenance crews on how to avoid and, when necessary, handle active bird nests.

Ospreys are attracted to utility poles because they serve as vantage points for hunting, roosting sites, eating platforms, a place to nest, territorial boundary markers and shelter from the elements. Usually birds can interact with utility poles without any harm coming to them, but there is always a risk of the birds coming in contact with the energized equipment- this can be dangerous for both the birds and our equipment, as it can cause harm to the birds and cause power outages for our customers.

Baby birds are at even greater risk, as they awkwardly move around equipment while learning to fly. Sticks or other nesting material that fall from the nest can also cause short circuits.

We take several measures to prevent harm from coming to birds and potential outages from their activity. This includes developing a special training program for employees who are directly involved with the design, construction, operation and maintenance of electrical facilities and equipment.

We also have plans in place to avoid building transmission lines in the following areas whenever possible:

  • wetlands;
  • known bird concentration areas (sensitive areas, ecological reserves, etc.);
  • daily movement flyways (e.g., between a wetland and adjacent agricultural field);
  • habitat of species at risk; and
  • areas with a high incidence of fog and mist

Osprey contact with transmission lines usually occur on lines that are close to areas where ducks, geese and other large water birds frequently fly. In up to 90%of cases, birds come in contact with an overhead wire instead of the more visible energized conductors. Approaching birds will often fly upwards to avoid the conductors, only to hit the wire. Research has shown that removing the overhead wire can decrease those collisions by half.

NB Power has plans in place to place lines in a way that reduce the risk of ospreys and other large birds making contact with these lines. For example, we build new transmission lines at the same height or lower than nearby trees and vegetation. Birds will gain altitude to fly over the obvious tree line and avoid any contact with the line.

Finally, we work with the Department of Natural Resources to build high wooden platforms to encourage nest-building away from our poles. When we discover active nests on our structures, we assess to determine if they are immediate threats to the electrical system. If the nest doesn’t pose a threat, we will inspect the area after the osprey chicks leave the nest (end of the summer) but before the following nesting season (early spring) takes place. After the baby birds have left the nest, we can transfer it to an adjacent osprey platform.

NB Power restoration update

May 19 2017, 17:24 PM

NB Power restoration update

At approximately 9:30 p.m. on May 18, 2017, a powerful thunder and lightning storm bringing strong winds swept through the Acadian Peninsula. Environment Canada is saying that winds may have hit 190 kilometres per hour. Several poles on the causeway and bridge from Shippagan to Lamèque, and also in the Pokeshaw and Anse Bleu area, were affected by the high winds.

Thursday night, crews safely restored electricity to 2500 customers from a peak of approximately 7,000. Efforts were complicated by ongoing lightning. 

Replacement equipment like poles, power lines and structures were sent from Fredericton to the northern area overnight Thursday. Fifteen new poles were required. None of the infrastructure which was damaged was new since the last ice storm.

Power is restored to Lamèque & bridge is reopened to traffic. Customers remaining without power should all be restored by 3pm Saturday.

Customers are reminded to stay clear of downed lines and equipment, and to be mindful of the safety of crews that may be stopped along the roads working to restore power.

Catalysts seeing cleaner energy in 20/20

May 12 2017, 12:13 PM

Catalysts seeing cleaner energy in 20/20

This week, 20 participants from Indigenous communities across Canada are in Richibucto, NB to learn about ways to develop clean energy projects in their communities as part of the second annual 20/20 Catalysts Program.

The Program is designed to bring First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Catalysts, or leaders, together to learn from Indigenous leaders who have completed their own clean energy projects as well as energy industry experts. Catalysts will acquire skills, tools and knowledge on how to plan, finance and execute clean energy projects within their home communities.

“It’s an Indigenous clean energy capacity building program. What this program is doing is essentially helping communities move their clean energy projects forward, which can be a huge support to them socially and economically,” said Eryn Stewart, Program Manager of the 20/20 Catalysts Program.

Mentors and coaches will guide and support the Catalysts through the program, including experienced staff from NB Power.

“We have mentors from across the country who have already done projects of their own. Supporting these catalysts, these participants, in those initiatives is extremely valuable for the future of Canada going forward,” Stewart said.

The Catalysts toured the Mactaquac Generating Station and the NB Power Products and Services Lab on May 9 to see how clean energy is being utilized in New Brunswick. Week two of the program will take place in Canmore, Alberta and week three will be held in Wakefield, Quebec.

The curriculum of the Program is made up of community engagement, business and project planning and financing. Sessions will cover topics like Smart Communities, Exploring Energy Efficiency and Community Energy Planning Simulations.

There are over 165 clean energy projects with indigenous involvement operating across Canada. Program participants are part of a group that will spread the ideas fostered in New Brunswick across the country to create more clean energy projects in the coming years.

We are excited to have the Catalysts of 2017 join us in New Brunswick and wish them the best with the rest of the program.

Get to Know Atlantic Canada’s First Utility Arborist Program

May 4 2017, 10:42 AM

Get to Know Atlantic Canada’s First Utility Arborist Program

The Maritime College of Forest Technology (MCFT) launched a new utility arboriculture college program this February in Fredericton. This program is a joint venture with MCFT, NB Power’s Distribution Vegetation Management team and Arboriculture Canada Training and Education Ltd.

Graduates of this program will complete over 1000 contact hours over the two year program, graduating with a diploma in utility arboriculture in 2019 with over ten separate certificates (such as a Chainsaw Operator Certificate, Herbicide Applicator certificate and ATV Operator Certificate, to name a few.)

The primary objective of this program is to supply a highly skilled and safety-oriented workforce to an industry that is struggling to recruit and retain workers. These individuals have gone through several steps during the admissions phase to ensure they are a best fit to this career, including an online candidate assessment tool called Talent Sorter.

The “tree trimmers” of tomorrow will be more appropriately termed “utility arborists”, with NB Power and MCFT having applied for trade designation and recognition of utility arboriculture as a designated occupation within the province of New Brunswick. Program coordinators have been working closely with counterparts in Ontario and British Columbia (where utility arboriculture is already a designated occupation) to design the curriculum and move toward the goal of red seal designation.

The curriculum includes courses such as Arboriculture Sciences, NB Power Safe Work Practices and Orientation, Electrical Theory and Awareness, Communications and a full suite of technical arborist courses offered through Arboriculture Canada Training and Education Ltd-Canadian leaders in the field of arboriculture. These students will be trained on proper tree rigging techniques both on the ground and high up.

This program is the first of its kind in Atlantic Canada, and has been featured in the Atlantic Forestry Review (Clearing the Lines) and MacLean’s magazine.

After tireless recruitment efforts in a relatively short period of time, 28 students (27 from New Brunswick, one from Ontario) have entered the program and will begin one of two work practicums this June with an NB Power vegetation contractor. They are currently working diligently in the classroom to prepare for their first work practicum, learning everything from vegetation management principles, electrical theory, tree species identification and biology, to pruning, felling and chipping methods.

This represents a significant advancement in the level of training and professionalism in the industry, with 28 bright and engaged individuals who are willing to invest (financially and time-wise) in educating themselves with a goal of working and living in New Brunswick.

 

Feel the difference with water-efficient showerheads

April 27 2017, 14:24 PM

Feel the difference with water-efficient showerheads

Are you looking for a new way to save on your household energy use that doesn’t sacrifice any comfort?

Maybe it’s time to consider a water-efficient showerhead- they use about 50% less water which helps you save on your energy bills.  

The newest water-efficient showerheads have been engineered specifically to maintain water pressure while reducing the flow of water. This means you can still shower under a strong blast if you replace your showerhead.

So how do you know if you’re ready to make the switch?

You can do a simple test to determine if your showerhead is a good candidate for replacement. Start by turning your water fully on and place a two litre jug or container in your tub. If it fills it up in less than 10 seconds, you should consider upgrading to a more efficient model.

What to look for in a showerhead

To find the most efficient showerhead when shopping, look for the ENERGY STAR certified label. These water-efficient models have been tested and rated to be the most efficient and yield the greatest energy savings.  

You should choose a showerhead with a low gallon per minute rating- this is usually on the package. We recommend models with a rating of 1.6 gallons per minute (GPM) or less.

Showers can account for up to 25% of your household’s hot water use. Imagine how much that can begin to cost the more people you add to your home? Here’s a breakdown of what the water use looks like for an average family of three with both a regular and water-efficient showerhead.

If you have kids, you’ll know they love to take their time in the shower. While we recommend limiting your shower to 10 minutes to see added savings on your power bill, it’s not always the case when you have a full house. An efficient showerhead can help limit the amount of hot water used, even if you have a family member who likes to take longer showers.

Use the installation of your efficient showerhead as an opportunity to discuss — as a family — the costs associated with hot water and other energy uses throughout your home.

Until the end of April, you can save even more on water-efficient showerheads with our Smart Habits rebate of $10 on select models at participating retailers.

 

 

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