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New Brunswickers take action to help Beat the Peak

January 21 2022, 10:19 AM

New Brunswickers take action to help Beat the Peak

With extremely cold temperatures across the province last week, we asked everyone to reduce their energy consumption to help New Brunswick Beat the Peak.

And it worked!

Peak electricity demand happens in the morning from 6 until 9, and in the afternoon from 4 until 8, when most families begin and wind down their days.

Thanks to the many customers who made small changes to reduce or delay energy use during peak demand periods, we reduced the need to use the most carbon-based energy to power New Brunswick during the cold snap.

Here’s how high in-province demand peaked last week:

January 11, 8-9 a.m. - 3,028 megawatts (MW)

January 11, 6-7 p.m. - 2,936 MW

January 12, 8-9 a.m. - 3,177 MW (second highest demand of all-time!)

The record for peak electricity demand in New Brunswick happened in January 2004, at 3,326 MW in the morning. For comparison, we only need about 1,500 MW to meet the needs of customers on a typical summer morning.

It’s our job to meet New Brunswickers’ energy needs all year-long and we had an opportunity to reduce the need for the most expensive energy. It was important for us to do our part, so early last week, many of our employees took steps to be ready for the peak periods.

  • Teams identified and implemented energy savings at NB Power generating stations and offices to reduce our own consumption. These actions included lowering temperatures in unoccupied spaces and delaying the operation of some of our equipment in our plants.
  • Generation employees readied and tested our reserve combustion turbine energy sources at Millbank, Ste. Rose and Grand Manan so they’d be ready if needed.
  • We dispatched our Peak Rebate Program, where 50 commercial and industrial customers who have signed up to work with us on peak demand through the winter months take action to reduce energy use for two-hour periods.
  • Our Key Account Specialists reached out to more than dozens of business customers who represent much of the energy use in the province. Most business owners and managers said that they appreciated the heads up and chance to make changes that would help them manage energy costs as well.
  • We partnered with municipal electric utilities in the province, including Saint John Energy who issued its own Shave the Peak alerts for their customers.
  • We shared information with New Brunswickers on social media, by email and on local radio stations to encourage everyone to join the effort.

Jean Marc Landry, NB Power’s Chief Customer Officer, is energized by New Brunswickers’ enthusiasm and interest in beating the peak. Many energy companies engage customers to help manage peak demand events in North America.

“It was great to hear how receptive our business customers were to making adjustments to their operations for a couple of days,” said Jean Marc. “They recognized that saving energy would not only help the province, but their bottom lines.”

Since this was the first time in years that NB Power asked customers to help Beat the Peak for specific dates, there were lots of discussions and questions.

“We recognize that this is a difficult time for many New Brunswickers, especially with so many working and learning from home,” said Jean Marc. “Thank you to all customers who made a small change to their routines to help lower overall demand of electricity during the morning and early evening periods. Together, we were able to avoid using the most expensive and least environmentally sustainable energy sources, which benefits the whole province.”

Thankfully, cold snaps like the one experienced last week are temporary, and so are our requests for New Brunswickers to use less power. But saving energy is always a good thing to do, for managing your power bill and helping the environment.

Thank you, New Brunswick!

What about Electric Vehicles?

On social media, we received lots of questions and comments about how Beat the Peak efforts would affect electric vehicles (EVs).

Most electric vehicle owners charge at home in the overnight hours, which has minimal impact on the morning and afternoon peak electricity periods. Electric vehicles also allow owners to schedule when they charge (to avoid peak periods) – the same way you might schedule a dishwasher to run on a 4-hour delay.

In the future, EV batteries will likely be a key part of our smart grid because they could be used as a source of power during times like these or during power outages.

 

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