February 29 2016, 08:55 AM
This might sound like a strange idea – a power company wanting you to use less of the product they sell.
You might be skeptical and think this isn’t good for business. But NB Power wants you to use less.
Here’s our President and CEO, Gaëtan Thomas to help explain how it’s going to help the company and our customers over the long run.
Gaëtan Thomas - President and CEO
Regardless of where you live in North America, we all use electricity in similar ways – especially in the mornings before work and the period around suppertime. They’re called “peak” times.
As New Brunswickers, we use nearly 3x as much electricity on a cold winter day as we do on a nice sunny day in June. That’s due in large part because 60% of New Brunswick homes heat with electric heating systems.
That means NB Power needs to have additional generating stations available to supply customer needs in the winter. These are called peaking plants and they sit idle much of the rest of the year. Their power is expensive and largely comes from fossil-fuels. Because our costs are reflected in our rates, meeting these peaks increases all of our monthly bills and impacts the environment of our province.
What if we could still provide the comfort and heat you desire on those cold winter days but without needing all that “extra” generation? What if we could all save money by doing so?
That’s our goal right now, and the way to do that is for all of us as energy consumers to better understand how we use electricity and then to develop smart habits that will help us both reduce our energy use and shift it to off-peak, or less expensive and greener, times of the day.
This change isn’t going to happen overnight and so we’re going through a managed transition right now that will ensure we protect the electrical system in New Brunswick and keep rates low and stable over time
The benefits to all of us will be tremendous. We’ll have a greener grid, emit less greenhouse gases and avoid nearly $1 Billion dollars in costs that will be passed on to you as savings through rate stability over time, helping to keep our rates among the lowest in Canada.
We are making progress toward these goals, and that will only accelerate with the help of our energy efficiency programs and through the roll out of new smart products and programs over the next few years.
Saving power doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the things you enjoy. There are simple steps you can take to change your energy habits like turning off the lights when you leave a room, setting a programmable thermostat to come before you wake up and waiting to do laundry or dishes until later in the evening.
Making simple behaviour changes like these are not only a great place to start, but can help save on your bill, without sacrificing your comfort. Working together in this way, we can have a huge impact on the future of electricity and the environment in our province.
Learn more about what we’re doing to solve the peak problem in New Brunswick in this video.
January 19 2016, 09:21 AM
Have you seen the video we made of New Brunswick kids talking about electricity and peak power? If you missed it, watch it here.
So what is peak exactly?
Put simply, it’s the highest one-hour load requirement on our power grid during a 24-hour period.
New Brunswick faces peak electricity issues during the historically coldest months of the year – January and February.
On these mornings, New Brunswickers turn up their heat, use hot water, turn on lights and use their appliances all at the same time, usually between 6 and 9 a.m. on weekdays. The colder it is outside, the more electricity we use to keep our homes and businesses warm. The same thing happens in the evening when everyone gets home from school and work between 4 and 8 pm.
This activity causes a peak in energy use and means that NB Power must rely on fossil fuel generation to meet the demand or buy the electricity on the open market at higher rates.
For example, a cold January day might create a peak system demand of 3,000 Megawatts of energy. Compare that to a summer morning when New Brunswickers use only half that and it's easy to see the impact on our system.
As New Brunswickers we’re all invested in the future of our province. By making small changes to our behaviour, we can collectively smooth out the peaks. That means a smaller environmental footprint and low, stable rates for New Brunswickers.
What can you do?
- Lower the temperature in unoccupied rooms, you’ll save electricity and money.
- Take shorter showers, or shower before bed.
- If your dishwasher or clothes washer has a time-delay function, use it to delay start times or manually start them after 8 a.m. or 8 p.m.
What are some of the things you’d do to help Beat the Peak this winter?
December 18 2015, 09:16 AM
New Brunswick homeowners are starting to get excited by the idea of producing some, or all, of their home’s energy needs. Renewable energy sources such as wind and solar are being explored as options become increasingly accessible. Solar panels are popping up on rooftops, and small wind turbines on commercial and residential properties are turning up throughout New Brunswick, as more New Brunswickers are talking about renewables. And why not? It is exciting to lighten one’s energy footprint, by making your home more energy efficient and by generating enough energy onsite. When your home can produce as much energy on-site as it uses, on an annual basis, this is what’s called a net zero home.
So how does it work?
Net zero homes use a renewable energy system like solar panels or wind turbines to produce as much energy as they use on a yearly basis. Net zero homes, unlike ‘off-grid’ homes, are still connected to ‘the grid’ – the province’s electricity distribution system- and are net metered with NB Power for the times when the panels don’t produce enough energy to meet current demand.
Alternatively, with NB Power’s net metering program, credits will accumulate for the homeowners when a surplus of power is generated and put back on the grid. This means that your monthly bill will reflect the difference between the total amount of your electricity consumption and the electricity your system produces over the billing period. That is the “net amount” of electricity.
One great benefit to being a net zero home is that the home’s renewable energy system can be sized to meet the average daily energy usage, rather than its peak demand. (Think of the difference in energy demand during a cold snap in the middle of winter, versus an early spring or late fall day!) Many net zero homeowners also take pride in and enjoy the fact that any surplus energy produced from their energy system goes back on the grid and supplies their neighbours’ homes with renewable energy.
The first step before even considering a renewable energy source is making sure your home or building is as energy efficient as possible. It is more cost effective to save energy through maximizing building efficiency than installing renewable energy sources; but both will help the environment and lower your power bill. If you’re interested in making upgrades to your home, make sure to look into NB Power’s Home Insulation Energy Savings program here.
NB Power’s Net Metering program partners with customers to facilitate small-scale, environmentally sustainable generation for homes that are still connected to ‘the grid’ and deals with a mix of homes and business, and small scale renewable generation technologies.
What do you envision for your home? Do you plan to invest in renewables or make your home more energy efficient in the future? Tell us below!
November 26 2015, 13:02 PM
First, thank you to everyone who came out to one of our seven open houses. It was hard to know how many of you would accept our offer to listen and share your feelings about the future of the Mactaquac Generating Station. We were amazed that nearly 950 of you took the time to visit and tell us what’s important to you at events in Nackawic, Fredericton, Woodstock and St. Thomas University.
During the open houses, our project team members provided the latest results of studies and potential site scenarios to people who live in communities around the station and headpond.
We also asked visitors to share their thoughts and feelings about a variety of topics on big flipcharts and online. That’s when the stories really started flowing.
We learned how important this project is for many New Brunswickers. You shared memories from when the station was first built, and how your lives were changed forever by the construction of the station and creation of the headpond in the 1960’s.
We heard how many of you value the green energy that Mactaquac puts on the grid. We heard how the headpond is an important recreational and aesthetic asset for people who live within its reach.
We also heard how some of you want the Saint John River to flow freely. We heard about the importance of allowing migratory fish to follow their natural path, the beauty of the islands that could emerge and possible uses for the new lands and shorelines.
Many of you wondered how a new Mactaquac fits into a changing energy landscape that includes small-scale renewables, solar and wind power.
We also heard your thoughts on how the new jobs and economic development potential from this project – no matter how it proceeds – would be a big help for the New Brunswick economy.
Many of you told us this is a complex decision that needs to be made logically and for the long-term good of the province.
While not everyone agrees on what to do next, it’s clear that all New Brunswickers value the natural beauty and environment that surrounds us, no matter which side of the station they live on. It’s also clear that many New Brunswickers want to have their say about this project before any decision is made.
This is why we’ll continue to ask New Brunswickers to share their thoughts about the station during the next several months.
You can share what’s important to you online, in person or in writing until March 31, 2016. You can also check out our online survey, Mactaquaction, which takes about 15-20 minutes to complete.
Our goal in talking to you is to identify common themes and interests, so we can make sure our chosen path forward in 2016 reflects what matters most to you.
November 9 2015, 11:02 AM
Are you in the market for new light bulbs? Perhaps you’re ready to “break up” with old lighting technology and replace your incandescent bulbs with their newer, much more energy efficient counterpart: the LED bulb. Right now is a great time to make the switch! NB Power is currently offering instant rebates on LEDs (along with programmable thermostats, showerheads, refrigerators, and clothes washers) until the end of November at participating stores.
Here are a couple of things to keep in mind when shopping for LED bulbs:
LED bulbs are available in a variety of shapes and sizes, for any location. You can even find dimmable bulbs, but you may need to switch out your wall dimmer switch for one that is compatible with LEDs.
When selecting a bulb for brightness, look for lumens, not watts. ENERGY STAR bulbs will provide you with the same brightness (lumens) with less energy (watts). Use the chart below to figure out how many lumens you need to match the brightness of the old incandescent bulb.
|Incandescent Bulb (Watts)||ENERGY STAR Bulb Brightness (minimum lumens)|
Another factor to take into consideration is the light color or appearance. LED bulbs are available in a wide range of colours and they will be matched to a temperature on the Kelvin scale. A bulb with a lower K rating will appear warmer or give off yellowish light, while a higher K will be a cooler, bluer light. Choose a 2700K LED bulb for a warm/soft light equivalent to a standard incandescent bulb.
Finally, always check the packaging for proper use.
Right now, you can find LED lights for as low as $3-$4 a bulb at some participating retailers! For a light that - depending on usage - may last you decades, that is pretty darn good value! Visit smarthabits.ca to find a store near you.
Have you made the switch already? What do you like best about LED lights? Tell us about it in the comments below.