June 17 2019, 11:48 AM
Building a smarter grid
As the energy industry continues to transform and diversify, New Brunswickers will have more choices on how they use energy to power their lives. Customer expectations are changing. To keep pace, we are changing too.
Today, we are building the power grid we need tomorrow - a modern digital energy network that will:
- give New Brunswickers more options for saving money, time and electricity
- communicate with us so we can respond to outages more quickly
- connect with renewable energy sources
The electricity grid is a complex system with one important job: to deliver safe, reliable electricity from power plants across New Brunswick to our customers’ homes and businesses. A modern grid is smarter, cleaner, more resilient and efficient.
What a smarter grid means for you
In the future, you may want to do more than use electricity. You may want to produce it and save it for later, like during a power outage. Or maybe you want it to play a different role in your life, not only at home but on the road.
You’ll have more choices and opportunities in the future for how you use energy.
Smart meters and the grid
Smart meters are one step on the journey to a smarter grid. A smart meter looks similar to our current meter. What makes it different is that it allows two-way communication, over a secure network, giving New Brunswickers the information they need to see and manage their energy use.
Picture this- you’re sitting at home catching up on your favorite TV show, and a lost signal message pops up on your screen. In many cases, before you even have a chance to grab your phone and call your provider, your favorite show is back up and running.
When you lose signal, your cable box sends a signal to your service provider to let them know about the issue. With current technologies, they can send a signal back to your box to try to diagnose the problem. Smart meters enable a similar two-way communication.
Utilities with this feature are seeing improved reliability and restoration speed. Their customers appreciate the added convenience.
Let’s look at some of the other benefits of smart meters:
- Knowledge is power
Your online access to detailed energy information will help you make informed usage decisions.
- Save with high bill alerts
You will be able to set up alerts to let you know when your energy use goes up and get tips on how to lower it so you can stay on budget.
- Quicker service
Smart meters enable us to remotely connect and reconnect service to your home so you get quicker service at a time that’s convenient for you.
- Faster power restoration
In many cases, smart meters will send notices to NB Power when the power is out. This allows us to start the restoration as quickly as possible so we can get the power back on faster.
- Greener operations
NB Power can do more work remotely and that means fewer visits and lower carbon emissions.
Meet Sue and Martin Brannon
Here’s a real life example of a couple who are seeing first-hand the benefits of smart meters.
Sue and Martin Brannon were born and raised in New Brunswick, but now share their time between New Brunswick and Florida. They have a smart meter in their home in Florida, which allows them to check their usage, set up bill alerts and receive notices if their power goes out from their home right here in New Brunswick.
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.
April 4 2017, 08:56 AM
Walking through the hallways leading to the NB Power products and services lab is like traveling through time. Designs on the walls outline the present, past and achievable future of NB Power.
The lab is just one of 3 lab environments that support the incubation of ideas for products and services that will integrate with New Brunswick’s Smart Grid- together, these labs form the Smart Grid Innovation Network.
Who’s involved in the Smart Grid Innovation Network?
NB Power has partnered with Siemens Canada and the University of New Brunswick to create this unique opportunity for companies to bring their Smart Grid visions to life.
It all starts at UNB: it is the idea incubator and physical device research facility.
Siemens comes in to work with products creators to establish connectivity and ensure the product is “Smart Grid ready.” Then the product functionality and effectiveness is tested at the NB Power lab. This lab is the last stop before launching new innovations.
Both Siemens and UNB are indispensable partners in the Smart Grid Network.
The NB Power lab
The hallway leading to the product lab and showroom detail our utility’s history through a timeline of important events that showcase our evolution to this point, and the challenges that face us for the future.
We’ve got one of the most diverse electric systems in North America that already incorporates a lot of renewable energy (wind up north, a little solar, and lots of hydro.)
We’re starting from a good spot, but the challenge remains- finding a way to reduce and shift energy demand to ‘beat the peak’ that happens in the morning between 6-9am and in the evening from 4-8pm.
We are aware of the changing interests and behaviours of our customers. In previous years we didn’t have to know what happens beyond the meters, but now we have to work with customers in order to keep up and grow.
The two-and-a-half year old lab is where NB Power engineers test out new and innovative products. It is ground control for our engineers to monitor the input from smart devices being tested in the field right now in pilot projects.
The product demo room
Here are products that will help you become more energy efficient as well as products that will help us manage your load.
On one wall you will see electric vehicles, solar panels and smart batteries. All are examples of new technologies that are already available.
Smart water heaters are another. We can communicate with them remotely and tell them to consume power when it’s the best time to do so.
Energy efficient products, heat pumps, energy-efficient fridges are on another wall.
On the floor you will see an illustration of Integrated Load Management System. This is the brain behind everything. It is the network which connects appliances to the lab.
Do you have an idea for a product or service that would integrate with the Smart Grid? Get in touch with the Smart Grid Innovation network here.
If you’re interested in the changing energy landscape and the opportunities that come with it, you can follow the Energy Innovations Forum- taking place April 4 and 5 in Fredericton, NB at the Fredericton Convention Centre on Twitter with the hashtag #EnergyInnoForum.