October 20 2020, 13:28 PM
NB Power is proud to own and operate Atlantic Canada’s only nuclear power plant. Our employees at the Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station (PLNGS) work hard every day to produce safe, reliable and clean power for New Brunswickers. As part of Nuclear Science Week, we are happy to put the spotlight on one of our accomplished shift supervisors at the Station and New Brunswicker through and through, Leah Belding.
Standing in the Main Control Room at the PLNGS for the first time was a career defining moment for Leah Belding. At the time she was only 19, fresh out of high school, and working at the plant on a short-term contract in the Service Maintenance Department.
“It was a real ‘wow’ moment to see these nuclear professionals working in a room with hundreds of buttons and switches, and knowing that they were operating a nuclear power plant,” Leah said. “That is the moment when I knew I wanted to be part of the team that operates Point Lepreau.”
Leah was raised in the area, and calls the local community of Chance Harbour home, which is approximately 10 minutes from the Station. Upon graduating from high school, with family members, friends and neighbours who worked at the plant, she knew Point Lepreau was a good employer with diverse career opportunities.
During her initial six-month contract, Leah developed relationships with co-workers who became mentors and helped her learn about the career possibilities in the different departments.
“Getting an inside look at the roles that keep a nuclear power plant running was a great learning opportunity,” said Leah. “These conversations with staff helped me decide that I wanted my future to be at Point Lepreau, and specifically as part of the Operations team, which lines up with my love of hands on, dynamic work.”
Leah then enrolled in the Power Engineering Technology Program at the New Brunswick Community College (NBCC). Upon completion of the first year of the program, Leah joined the Point Lepreau team again, this time as a Power Engineering summer student. She was assigned to one of the Operations crews for her CO-OP program. This experience gave her a glimpse of what full-time employment would entail, the challenges of working shift work, and the day-to-day activities the Operators perform, such as applying work permits, general routines, alarm response needs from the Control Room Operators, and more.
Upon graduation from NBCC, Leah was hired as a Power Plant Operator (PPO), and took nuclear-specific plant training, along with radiation protection training, to give her a strong foundation to work at PLNGS. Two years into that role, she had the opportunity to become a Senior Power Plant Operator (SPPO) by completing additional training. In these roles, Leah performed field inspections and operational tests, among other activities, to ensure plant reliability.
Two years later, Leah was selected to become a licensed Control Room Operator (CRO), which she had set as her ultimate career goal.
A CRO is a position of leadership amongst the staff who are licensed by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) to operate the plant. A CRO is responsible for monitoring the status of systems or components, interpreting and responding appropriately to instrumentation, verifying the work of team members, and configuring the plant to allow specialized maintenance and testing to be performed. A CRO also plays a key role in plant emergencies and any events involving personnel safety.
The three-year CRO training program was challenging, with a year of general training, a year of station-specific training and another year of simulator training, where candidates train to respond to unlikely hypothetical emergency scenarios at the Station. This was followed by six months of co-piloting where Leah worked alongside a licensed operator in the plant to gain experience. Leah achieved certification as a CRO at the age of 29, just 10 years after setting her sights on the occupation.
“The training program to become a CRO was very rigorous and included a lot of self-directed reading and studying before we got to the hands-on learning,” Leah said. “In the midst of this program, I had my first child, and balanced my family and work commitments to keep my progress on track. I had tremendous support from my family and community, as well as my colleagues, who rallied behind me to help me achieve this important career goal.”
Leah spent the next nine years working on shift as a CRO, with her “thumb on the pulse of the plant.”
“I love the fast-paced work environment and team approach for Operations,” she said. “Being in the middle of everything and providing leadership and direction to the larger team is exciting and rewarding. Every shift I am relied upon to make important decisions based on what I have learned, to ensure the safety and reliability of the plant.”
In September 2016, Leah was once again recognized for her skills and leadership abilities. This time she was selected as a candidate to train to become a certified Shift Supervisor.
The Shift Supervisor role at PLNGS is the most senior role on shift in the Operations group. The Duty Shift Supervisor is responsible for ensuring the plant is operated within Point Lepreau’s Operating Policies and Principles, and the Power Reactor Operating Licence granted by the CNSC. Ultimately, they are responsible for maintaining nuclear safety to protect staff, the public and the environment. The Shift Supervisor makes operational decisions and prioritizes the work to be done. They also lead the response to any potential abnormal plant conditions or emergency situations.
She completed the simulator phase of her training, and after 40 co-piloting shifts with a senior mentor, the applications for her certification was submitted to the CNSC and she officially became a Shift Supervisor.
“It was a great honour to train to be a Shift Supervisor at the time,” said Leah. “I have spent 40% of my 19 years with NB Power taking formal training either in a classroom or a simulator, focusing on not only plant operation, but also the personal aspects of operator fundamentals – not just what to do, but how to do it to the high standards required and expected of staff.”
Leah, her husband, and their three children live in Chance Harbor close to where they both grew up. Their family ties run deep over many generations with connections to both PLNGS and the fishing industry. These links guarantee that Leah does not take the responsibilities of the Shift Supervisor role lightly.
“When I talk about ensuring the safety of the public and the area surrounding the Station, I am talking about my husband, children, siblings, nieces, nephews, parents, aunts, uncles and friends, and the places we call home,” she said. “I am talking about my husband and our family members who are local fishermen providing fresh, safe food for the people throughout New Brunswick and beyond. It is my commitment to operate PLNGS in a safe manner every single day to protect the communities around us.”
October 26 2018, 11:28 AM
Is solar power the right option for your home or business? Due to the size of the initial investment to install solar at your property, there are a few important things you should consider. We’ve rounded them up here, so you can make the right decision based on your location, property type and lifestyle.
1. Conservation and Energy Efficiency
These are the most important steps. People often overlook conservation and energy efficiency as a step in integrating renewable generation. What good is it to pay a premium for a solar system if the energy is simply wasted? Since most homes would use more than they produce, the first thing you should consider before looking at installing a solar array is “Can I reduce my energy use?” Have you done everything you can to reduce your annual energy consumption? As we’ll look at below, it can be much cheaper to save a kilowatt hour than it can be to produce one.
Cost to avoid purchasing a kWh :
- Energy Conservation (insulation, air-sealing, changing habits, etc.) = $0.02/ kWh
- Energy Efficiency (HVAC, lighting, etc.) = $0.07/kWh
- PV Generation (Net Metering) = $0.12- $0.16/kWh
- PV Generation + Storage = $0.20/kWh
As you can see from the numbers above, the biggest bang for your buck in terms of reducing your building’s energy use is found through conservation. Combined with energy-efficient improvements, you could see a big pay-back for your initial investment. We offer a suite of energy-efficiency programs for homes and businesses that help offset the costs of making these investments.
2. Types of solar
There are two categories of solar - Passive and Active Solar.
- Passive solar harnesses the natural energy from the sun to heat an area of your home. If you have a larger window in one of the rooms in your home, and you’ve ever felt the room get warmer on sunny days, you’ve likely already experienced the effects of passive solar. Passive solar is something to consider if you’re building a new home, where you can position the building toward the sun. Passive House Certified buildings consume up to 90% less heating and cooling than conventional buildings do.
- Active solar is the second, and most familiar type of solar. This type uses mechanical or electrical devices to store or convert solar energy into electricity or heat. The most common example of active solar are solar photovoltaic (PV) arrays you may see on roofs. These arrays convert solar energy to electricity for use in your home or business. Another example of active solar is thermal solar, which can be used for space or water heating. (use photo of solar wall for space heating and solar water heater for home water heating)
Solar wall used at Saint John Transit. This example of thermal solar is great for commercial buildings
with large surfaces facing the sun.
Solar water heating. Great for large water heating loads like hotels and apartment buildings.
Can also be used for seasonal use like cottages and pools.
3. Location/ Orientation
Just like with real estate, location is incredibly important when considering solar. Get familiar with how the sun moves around your building and pay attention to how much sun it gets each day. Solar might work for you if you have an unobstructed roof (no shade), with proper slope that faces anywhere from Southeast to Southwest. Or it might work if you have a barn or yard that is unobstructed by shade, or a hill on your property.
4. Roof Pitch
Do you know how steep the pitch of your roof is? In New Brunswick, there are a few pitches that would work for installing a solar PV array. They are highlighted in the image below. If your roof pitch falls outside of this range, don’t despair, as there are newer options for racking hardware that your installer may be able to recommend for lower pitched roofs.
5. Roof area
If you’re looking at a solar system on your roof, you will definitely have to consider the size of your roof in addition to its pitch. The average roof only has enough space to accommodate an array of 4-12 kW. A one kW solar PV array produces about 1,200 kWh of energy per year as long as it’s at optimal orientation and slope. A 4 kilowatt array could produce up to 4,800 kWh of electricity a year, while a 12 kilowatt array could produce up to 14,400 kWh of electricity a year.
11k array in New Brunswick
6. Your energy use
Do you know how much energy your home uses each year? New Brunswick homes average between 9,000 and 25,000 kWh of electricity use annually. R-2000 homes are on the lower end, with existing homes not built to current codes are on the higher end of that spectrum. The majority of New Brunswickers use some form of electric heating, which can account for 50% of their total energy use for the year. Looking at how many kilowatt hours of energy an array in New Brunswick could produce annually, most homes would use way more energy than they could produce.
Want to learn more about solar? Leave your question in the comments below to be considered for a future blog post!
September 11 2017, 16:19 PM
As a certified gearhead, I love a good road trip. This summer, I wanted to find out if it was possible to travel from Montreal, Q.C. to Halifax, N.S. without burning a drop of gasoline. In New Brunswick, thanks to NB Power’s eCharge Network, I was easily able to travel across the province solely on electric power.
One of the traditional arguments against all-electric cars has been their range, or lack thereof. Fears of “ohmygawdwillimakeit” used to be a common deterrent for people considering an EV, brought upon by a combination of small on-board batteries that didn’t hold much juice and an anemic network of charging stations.
NB Power’s eCharge Network, a series of public electric car charging stations strategically placed at popular locations throughout the province handily solves the charging station issue. My car for the journey, a Chevrolet Bolt capable of at least 383km on a single charge, erased any hint of range anxiety. Together, they made the perfect pair.
My first stop to fill up on electrons was at the popular Shell station on Grey Rock Road, right off the highway just outside of Edmundston. The eCharge Network charging station, in a spacious corner of the parking lot, was brightly coloured and easy to find. Two charging options are always available at the eCharge Network’s fast-charging sites: a “Level-2” charger, which will fully charge the typical EV in about 7 hours and is perfect for a top-up on shorter trips, and a DC “fast charger”. Knowing my route took me across the province, I selected the “fast charger”, which fills an EV’s battery to 80% in about half an hour.
Activating the station was easy. Prior to hitting the road, I had downloaded the eCharge Network app onto my smartphone and quickly set up an account. With the Grey Rock charging station selected in the app and the station’s charger plugged into the Bolt, I pressed the “Start a Session” button displayed in the app. Within seconds, the charging station displayed a “Ready” message. Pushing the machine’s big, green Start button produced a satisfying thunk and the Bolt’s message centre confirmed it was now hoovering electricity from the NB Power electrical grid. The process was no more complicated than getting gas and paying at the pump in a conventional car.
NB Power has done a great job selecting locations for the eCharge Network, as I had ample selection of places to grab a snack and use wi-fi to catch up on emails. As I waited, another EV driver pulled up to the charging station and used the Level-2 charger. That EV driver used their eCharge Network card to activate the station rather than the app. Chatting with him, he remarked to me how pleased he was with NB Power’s charging station installations. His opinion carried weight – turns out he has travelled over 100,000km in three years with his EV!
My other two charging stops, at the Irving Big Stops near Fredericton and Salisbury, were equally pleasant and carefree. In a tremendous spurt of happenstance, the charging station in Salisbury is directly adjacent to an ice cream parlour. Tasty treats and zero emissions? That’s a win-win if I ever heard one.
The well thought out eCharge Network made it easy to drive across New Brunswick in the all-electric Chevy Bolt. By taking the lead on clean motoring, NB Power sets the table for New Brunswick residents who are considering buying an EV or plug-in hybrid while, at the same time, making the province more a lot more accessible for current owners of those types of cars.
Be sure to check out all the details of the eCharge Network, along with a map of charging stations.
Living in rural Nova Scotia, Matthew Guy has immersed himself in car culture for over 30 years and relishes the thought of a good road trip. A certified gearhead, he enjoys professionally writing about cars.
His work has appeared on wheels.ca, HybridCars.com, and in CAA Magazine. Find him on Facebook and Instagram as Dude Drives Cars and on Twitter @DudeDrivesCars
August 24 2017, 11:15 AM
Nestled along the shore of the Bay of Fundy about eight kilometres from Dorchester is the Johnson’s Mills Shorebird Reserve and Interpretive Centre. The centre is owned by the Nature Conservancy of Canada, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving natural habitats, plants and animals.
The centre recently upgraded to a solar energy system that is able to power the entire facility. On cloudy days when the centre cannot draw enough power from the sun, it uses energy from the NB Power grid as part of the Net Metering Program. The program is designed to allow customers to generate their own electricity to offset their consumption, while remaining connected to NB Power's distribution system – so they can meet their electricity demands when their generation unit cannot.
“It was important for the Nature Conservancy of Canada to power our facility with solar energy because in protecting habitats and managing our lands, we want to minimize our impact on climate change,” Kerry Lee Morris-Cormier, Manager of the Shorebird Interpretation Centre, said.
The solar array is made up of 4, 250W photovoltaic solar panels with converters. EOS Eco-Energy, a non-profit organization based out of Sackville that supports energy conservation and renewable energy technologies, supplied the funds to pay for the array through a grant.
“By reducing our carbon footprint, we are having a positive effect on the environment here,” said Morris-Cormier.
“The Interpretive Centre was able to net zero their consumption last year using the grid as a reliable source when the sun is not present but were able to give all that energy back using the power of the sun. It’s a great example of environmental leadership and stewardship,” said J.P. Ouellette, Renewables Specialist at NB Power.
The purpose of the Interpretive Centre is to provide a safe place for shorebirds to roost, or rest, during their migration each year from the Canadian Arctic to South America. Up to 100,000 stop and rest at Johnson’s Mills. The mud the low tide leaves behind is rich with food sources for the birds to store in their fat pouches.
Shorebirds fly over the ocean for three days straight before arriving in South America. These birds can’t swim, which is why it is so important for them to remain undisturbed while they roost throughout the month of August, and is why the Johnson’s Mills Shorebird Reserve and Interpretive Centre exists.
“We have converted this old cottage from the 1950’s into an interpretive centre so we can be here in the summer months to monitor the species and help inform the public of how special these birds and how to best visit the area without harming the birds,” said Morris-Cormier.
July 24 2017, 14:48 PM
We know our customers are very interested in green energy sources, particularly solar energy. NB Power is also looking into more options when it comes to solar energy, including the Smartflower.
The Smartflower is currently on the market in other northern countries with weather patterns similar to Canada. We are currently testing the device at the Energy Control Centre in Marysville to see how well it is able to perform in New Brunswick. The Smartflower is the first of its kind in New Brunswick and will supply energy to the building while we measure its output and performance.
“The Smartflower product is an exciting development that provides a self-contained solution for consumers who want to invest in green energy to supplement their energy usage,” said Tony O’Hara, Chief Technology Officer and Vice President of Engineering.
The Smartflower is more compact and attractive than traditional solar panels. The face of the flower follows the sun throughout the day, and the petals close after sunset or if it becomes too windy. It could generate enough energy to power a summer cottage.
This is just one of the many forms of technology NB Power is looking at to meet the needs of our customers. In the future, we are looking to provide more and more products and services for New Brunswickers who want to integrate green energy in their households.
“It is very important that NB Power be a leader in the promotion of renewable energy sources. This is a small example of how we are doing just that,” O’Hara said.