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Engineers driving reliability of generating stations

March 11 2021, 09:37 AM

Engineers driving reliability of generating stations

Did you know that March is National Engineering Month? Throughout our province, NB Power employs more than 350 engineers. These hardworking employees work in our generating facilities and offices, on our distribution and transmission infrastructure and in the field around your communities.

From analyzing the core of a nuclear reactor to helping to develop a new transmission line, engineering at NB Power provides a diverse and exciting career path.

René Paulin is one of two Mechanical Engineers at the Belledune Generating Station, a coal plant in the northern part of the province.

After growing up in Petit-Rocher, René completed a Mechanical Engineering degree at Université de Moncton. During his studies, he worked at Belledune as a summer student and got a taste of what it’s like working in a power plant. After gaining some hands-on job experience after graduation, René accepted an engineering position at NB Power in 2008.

A key member of the operating team for the past decade, René’s days are filled with inspections, problem solving and developing recommendations for the maintenance team to keep the station operating safely and reliably.

The engineering team at Belledune also takes care of work in other locations, such as our Millbank and Ste. Rose combustion units, Nepisiguit Falls hydro station and the Eel River High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) converter station. This means their knowledge covers multiple facilities and types of generation– each presenting its own challenges.

René Paulin, Mechanical Engineer

“Each day is an adventure, and I am fortunate to be able to learn more with every job,” said René. “I really enjoy finding solutions to complex problems – that’s why I became an engineer. My role allows me to work on many different types of equipment and systems, which means lots of variety and interesting work.”

Bernard Roy, Station Manager for Belledune (and fellow engineer!), says that engineers like René have the unique opportunity to learn about different parts of the provincial power grid.

“In French, we would say staff like René are “polyvalent” – which basically means he’s well rounded, and nimble to respond to anything that comes up,” said Bernard. “Our engineers work closely with maintenance teams, work planners and management to help keep all of our assets operating safely and reliably.”

René and his wife live in Bathurst with their two sons. When he’s not working, his family spends a lot of time at local rinks for hockey, and René coaches his sons’ teams. Some of his engineering skills like troubleshooting, time management and collaboration are as handy on the ice as they are at work.

So what’s the best part about being an engineer at NB Power according to René?

“I am fortunate to work alongside some wonderful New Brunswickers,” he said. “The knowledge and talent of my co-workers is second to none. We’re all working together to make sure New Brunswick communities can count on reliable energy to power their homes and businesses.”

NB Power Employee Helps Rescue a Fellow New Brunswicker

August 18 2020, 16:40 PM

NB Power Employee Helps Rescue a Fellow New Brunswicker

Sometimes heroes wear hard hats instead of capes.

Terry Bass, a Construction Manager at NB Power, certainly wasn’t expecting to be part of a life-saving rescue when he went to work on a beautiful summer morning. Terry was working alongside a crew from East Coast Powerline in the forest near Allardville. With the help of a Vortex company helicopter, they were working on reliability upgrades in northern New Brunswick.

While on top of an 80-foot tall tower, a member of the crew heard someone calling out for help. They yelled in the direction of the sound and a woman shouted back that she’d been lost in the woods for days and couldn’t walk anymore.

Terry and the rest of the team jumped into action, starting the emergency response plan they learn before each project. They coordinated with Ambulance NB and the RCMP before setting off in the helicopter. Armed with a backboard and medical supplies, the team was dropped off near the marshy rescue area.  

“The crew waded through knee-deep water, grass, mud, and kept going until they found her,” said Terry. “Amazingly she was able to speak and in good spirits but was not able to get out of there on her own. We worked together to carry her out of the marsh and onto solid ground. Then we figured out the nearest access road and carried her through the dense forest and brush while medics attended to her needs.”

After hiking about 2.4 kilometers, the crew was shocked to discover it was a woman from Saint-Isidore who had been missing for nearly two weeks. RCMP and Ground Search and Rescue had been looking for her.

“I just can’t believe she’s alive,” said Terry. “She said she’d been drinking water on leaves and eating berries she found on the ground. It’s remarkable that she was doing so well after such a terrible experience. We are all so happy that we happened to be in the right place – a very remote one – to be able to help her get home.”

Terry and the crew helped first responders get the woman to an ambulance and she was taken to hospital and treated for minor injuries. She is happy to be back home, thanks to the heroics of our team.

Anyone who knows Terry won’t be surprised that he played a role in this life-saving mission. He is passionate about helping others and is a perfect example of what our employees are all about.

At NB Power, we are proud of our people that are the heart of our company. Working in communities across our great province, our employees have been serving New Brunswickers for more than 100 years.

This story is a powerful example of how a perfectly-timed coincidence, paired with courage and know-how, can change someone’s life.

 

 

National Lineworker Appreciation Day

July 10 2019, 11:29 AM

National Lineworker Appreciation Day

July 10th is the anniversary of the death of Henry Miller, lineworker and founding president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). He died on the job from electrocution.

To honour the important work linemen like Henry do every day across Canada, The Canadian Electricity Association is proposing that July 10 become National Lineworker Appreciation Day. 

Lineworkers are the people who make sure Canadians have the power they need. But their jobs are not easy. The Globe and Mail ranked lineworkers as having one of the 10 riskiest jobs in Canada in 2019.

Ross Galbraith, Business Manager of IBEW Local 37 in New Brunswick, said this day commemorates Henry’s death and recognizes lineworkers who continue to do dangerous work.

“It is important to recognize the work that they do to provide safe and reliable power.  They do this not only during a blue sky day but also during times of significant bad weather events.”

Nicole Poirier, NB Power’s Executive Director of Customer Services, said this day also recognizes the teams that support our lineworkers. Lineworkers are supported everyday by employees working in all areas of the company, such as the warehouse, engineering, dispatch, customer service, IT and accounting.  It really takes the entire team working together to make it all happen.

Line work is not for everyone. It takes a special person to spend so much time away from their loved ones and perform such a dangerous job. We appreciate and thank all our lineworkers for their dedication to their communities.

Point Lepreau employee takes expertise and passion to international level

June 10 2019, 08:29 AM

Point Lepreau employee takes expertise and passion to international level

Ross Horgan has packed a lot of experience into his 12 years in the nuclear industry.

He graduated from the Electrical Engineering Technology Program at NBCC in 2007, and started working at the Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station later that year as an Electrical Instrumentation & Control Maintainer.

“During my first month on-site I believe some station personnel legitimately thought I was a lost student from Take Our Kids to Work Day,” said Ross. “I took pride in joining the NB Power team and was determined to conduct high-quality maintenance on the digital control computers and plant data logging computers for the reactor. Before my employment with NB Power, I had experience maintaining similar systems, but never in the nuclear industry where each individual learns the unique responsibility inherent with using nuclear technology.”

After becoming a Performance Improvement Coordinator at Point Lepreau in 2015, Ross had the opportunity to learn about the major role the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) plays in the industry. He said it was an eye-opening experience working with the organization on ways to leverage other stations’ lessons learned to help here at home in New Brunswick.

In 2017, Ross had the opportunity to be one of PLNGS’s Host Peers for the WANO Peer Review. Peer reviews help members compare themselves against standards of excellence through an in-depth, objective review of their operations. As a Host Peer, Ross was a member of the evaluation team consisting of international nuclear leaders. This experience gave Ross a new goal for his career- to become an industry leader in nuclear safety.

Last fall, he took another step toward that goal when he was selected as the Young Generation Coordinator for the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) from applicants all over the world. This 18-month secondment involves Ross spending half his time in his role at Point Lepreau, and half working remotely for WANO. This includes travelling worldwide representing and financed by the WANO London office.

As part of this new journey, Ross is focused on improvement initiatives for WANO Young Generation which allows nuclear industry leaders to engage the next generation of nuclear workers.

“I work with the Young Generation in nuclear to ensure they’re aware of the benefits of taking on positions and special projects that develop needed competencies to broaden their understanding of the varied roles and responsibilities within their respective organisations,” said Ross. “Through working with a variety of managers who serve as role models in my professional development I’ve been able to accomplish my career aspirations. It’s beneficial to young generation members to be aware of the professional development opportunities WANO provides.”

For Ross, one of the highlights of this experience so far was the 2019 WANO Young Generation Exchange Assembly he organized and hosted in February. The four-day international conference was based in Paris, France, and included a tour of the Gösgen Nuclear Power Plant in Switzerland. Leadership development opportunities, a look-ahead to nuclear power in 2050 and a discussion on how to engage the next generation were all aspects of the four days involving 20 representatives from Stations in Canada, United States, South Korea, Japan, Armenia, US, Russia, India and United Kingdom.

This summer, Ross will also be a speaker at the Canadian Nuclear Society’s annual conference. He will also moderate a roundtable discussion in Obninsk, Russia at the 65th anniversary of the commissioning for the first grid- connected nuclear power plant in the world.

Mark Power, Point Lepreau Station Director, says that this partnership with WANO not only benefits Ross in his development as a leader, but it is an excellent industry networking opportunity for Point Lepreau.

“We are so proud to have Ross representing Point Lepreau and advocating for the younger generation of the nuclear workforce,” says Mark. “Ross has demonstrated his passion and leadership at our Station for years, so it’s exciting for him to have the opportunity to develop and grow at the international level. Our Station is benefitting from his experience which will assist us as we continue our journey toward Excellence.”

 

Empowering women in non-traditional roles

March 8 2019, 08:41 AM

Empowering women in non-traditional roles

Today is International Women’s Day, a day that celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, while also making a call to action to accelerate gender balance. This year’s theme is building a gender-balanced world. Coleson Cove’s Plant Manager, Kate LeBlanc, believes that creating gender balance within the workplace begins with supporting women in all fields.

Originally from Fredericton, Kate has a chemical engineering degree from the University of New Brunswick. She received her professional engineering qualification while working with NB Power and has been with the company for over 28 years. Her career began at the Chatham Generating Station where she was a contractor working on research projects. In 1990, she was hired to work with NB Power’s Plant Technical Services group in Fredericton.  She was transferred two years later to the Belledune station to join the commissioning team. From there, she moved into the Operations Group and then the Technical Department working primarily at the Belledune and Dalhousie Stations. She became the Chemistry and Environmental Supervisor at Coleson Cove in 2005, and the Maintenance Superintendent in 2015. Two years ago, she became the plant manager. 

 “As plant manager, I review the station’s status each day to make sure there are no issues and that the plant is reliable and running smoothly. I attend meetings, deal with the budget, work on long-term goals and objectives, and on project development,” explains Kate.

What Kate loves most about her job is its diversity. “From Finances, to helping employees, my job is so diverse. One of my favourite things is doing walk-throughs of the station and getting to talk to the great people I work with,” said Kate.

Kate explains that NB Power has always been supportive in allowing her to move into various roles throughout the company. She wants all women to have the opportunities she has had and believes in the importance of supporting women in all non-traditional roles, including science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers. "Having gender-balance in the workplace is important in helping companies thrive. It’s great that NB Power continues to have an increasing number of female engineers, contractors, operators, chemical technicians, structural maintenance workers, and mechanical crew members throughout the company,” says Kate.  

“Women have a lot to contribute to STEM and all other non-traditional career fields. I’m happy to share my story in hopes that it encourages young women to pursue their interests and show them that they too can do anything they want to do.”

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