September 16 2015, 10:41 AM
On Saturday, September 19, New Brunswick electric vehicle owners will show their cars off on Queen Street in Fredericton as part of our electric car show during the Harvest Jazz and Blues festival. One of those car owners is David Alston, a local tech entrepreneur and mentor.
Here’s David’s EV story.
When I first took a test drive of the Volt at the South by Southwest (SXSW) conference in Austin, Texas back in March of 2011 I fell in love with its tech and its promise to reduce the carbon footprint of driving.
It was a chance for Chevy to showcase it's green offering to thousands of gadget loving, social media types that would hopefully gladly share their experience on Facebook, Twitter and the like. I was impressed with the approach and the car. So much so that I wanted to know how to get my hands on the first one shipped to New Brunswick when it would roll out in Canada the following year.
With deposit in hand, I marched down to my local Chevrolet dealer and got in the queue. But it's interesting how much time and branding can have an effect on you.
With the 18-month wait, I gradually started to forget the experience and I started to worry about my choice. You see, my previous experience with General Motors cars had been driving some 10 year old Olds and Buicks back in my final years at university. Those cars had been on their last legs, to be fair, but the experience had pushed me hard toward buying Japanese brands as soon as I graduated, and I hadn't wavered from that choice for over 20 years.
I eventually caved and retrieved my deposit. I chickened out.
But it happened that a couple of colleagues of mine had also placed themselves in the queue and were the first in our area to receive a shiny new blue Volt. They drove it to and from work with pride, bragging that after months of ownership they still had the same gas in the gas tank as when they purchased it - they were nearly able to drive solely on electric charges! Now that's an awesome stat.
My interest peaked once again and I asked if they minded if I could take it for a test drive after work one day. The feeling came back and I was sold.
At the time, the Canadian dollar was trading at par with the US so I decided I'd look for a one year old Volt in the US and import it. I still remember seeing it for the first time all shined up in the bay of World Class Auto.
With an electric engine, the acceleration is instant and smooth and all I heard was the tires on the road as we turned on to the road for the premier test drive. This is a car built solid and with a suspension that seems to float on air and the trim inside was as nice as any luxury vehicle on the market. I was very pleased with my new mode of transportation.
While the Volt comes with a regular 110V charger that would easily fully charge the vehicle overnight I decided to purchase a 220V charger from Sun Country Highway for around $500 and have my local electrician install it in my garage- it took maybe 15 minutes to install. I wanted to have the option of a 4-hour quick charge as we make regular trips to and from the city to pick up and drop off the kids for their activities etc... We can sometimes even drive to and from town twice on a single charge if we watch our speeds and acceleration and take advantage of the regenerative braking.
Keep in mind, a single charge takes 10 kw/h of power or costs roughly about $1.12 at today’s power rates. I can go for about 55 to 70 kms on a charge depending on the terrain during the summer and 35 to 50 kms in the winter - cold affects batteries in the winter and these cars also use more power for the heaters. Either way, I figure that for a $1.12 I am generally going at least 3 times the distance of a typical gas only car and paying 3 times less!
What's also cool is that electric engines don't need oil changes. Only the backup gas powered motor/generator built into it does, so I generally only get one oil change per year.
The Volt also runs on gas when the charge of the batteries runs out. The switch over is not noticeable other than the quiet whir of the generator now running in the background. This feature extends the range of the Volt by another 550 kms. Yes, that means you drive the Volt just like any other vehicle but with the option of driving electric when it's charged up.
We've done return trips to New Hampshire, New York and PEI in the Volt, of course mostly using the gas engine.
It's what I love about the Volt - it's as economical as you can get for commuting but still has all the stuff of a regular car for road trips.
Meet David and other electric vehicle owners from 12-5pm during the car show on Queen Street in Fredericton. You can also find out what it’s like to drive an electric vehicle during the EV test drive from 12-pm as well.
If you can’t make it, but have questions about EV’s for David, you can find him on Twitter @davidalston.
September 8 2015, 17:41 PM
We’re excited to be back on Queen Street with Siemens Canada and the Gaia Project to celebrate the 25th year of Fredericton’s Harvest Jazz and Blues festival from September 18-20. It’s always a great opportunity for us connect with you and show off some of the amazing, innovative projects we’re working on to help you save energy and money.
Take a walk through the home of the future and learn more about some exciting new energy efficiency products. Snap a selfie with our Smart Habits heroes, Wattson and Volt and upload them to your favorite social media channel with the hashtag #smarthabits for a chance to win tickets to Harvest Jazz and Blues shows.
After taking the tour, fill out one of our ballots for a chance to win an Evo electric bike thanks to our friends at the Radical Edge. We’ll be drawing a winner for the bike on Sunday.
Speaking of sustainable transportation, be sure to check out Atlantic Canada’s first electric car show and test drive from 12-5pm on Saturday. You’ll be able to find out what it’s like to own and drive one of these cars from electric vehicle (EV) owners from across the province- yes, this includes a Tesla. If you like what you hear, you can hop into some EV’s and go for a spin around the block, thanks to some of the certified New Brunswick electric car dealers. Remember to bring your driver’s license.
Our Smart Grid partners, Siemens Canada will help you generate virtual electricity with the power of your mind with Mind2Motion. Here, you can measure your brain frequency - the harder you concentrate, the faster the wind turbine on the screen spins, actually showing RPM.
Our education partner, The Gaia Project will demonstrate its custom-built traveling lab designed to provide hands-on learning around renewable energy. The Mobile Energy Centre is equipped with two solar panels - one for heat and one for electricity, a wind turbine, a hydro demonstration and bike generator. You can also take their pedal power challenge to see how much energy you can produce.
There’s so much happening right here in New Brunswick. The future of Electricity looks a lot like this!
September 2 2015, 14:31 PM
With the help of smart phones and tablets, it’s now easier for you to do more online, whether it’s shopping, banking or booking trips. Why should your power bill be any different? That’s why we set up our new website to make it easy for you to receive and pay your bills online, when it’s convenient for you.
If you’re not already one of the 30,000 New Brunswickers who have signed up for paperless billing, you can get started here.
Once you’ve created a profile on nbpower.com, you can begin managing your bills, see how much energy you’re using and set up a payment plan. If you want to help reduce your environmental impact, but you need a paper copy of your bill from time to time- don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. In your online profile, you can view and print off a pdf version of your bill to keep for your records.
The end of epost
As of September 1, 2015 our bills will no longer be delivered through Canada Post’s epost™ service. If you’ve been using this service to receive your bills, we encourage you to sign up for our paperless billing on nbpower.com in order to keep receiving your bills electronically. With our paperless option, you will receive a monthly reminder when your bill is ready to view- just like you would with epost.
Paying your bills
If you do your banking online, you can select Energie NB Power from a drop down menu in the “add a payee” section to get set up to pay directly from your bank.
- You can set it and forget it, with a pre-authorized payment plan, which will automatically take out a set amount each month from your bank account to pay your monthly balance.
- You can also set up one time payments right inside your nbpower.com online account. Here’s what you will need to do that:
You can save this information in your account to use for future payments, so you can pay even quicker going forward.
Are you ready to make the switch?
Check out the Accounts and Billing page on nbpower.com to find more information on going paperless and to learn about some handy payment plans to help you manage your power bills.
July 29 2015, 11:18 AM
A few weeks ago, we opened the doors on our new visitors’ centre at the Mactaquac Generating Station. The new centre helps us tell the story of the Station, the river and the people who live along the water. When you walk into the new centre, you’ll find big, bright wall panels full of pictures, graphics and maps that help tell these stories.
The story so far
Long before we built the station, the Maliseet people lived along the banks of the Saint John River. They call it the Wolastoq - the beautiful and bountiful river. It was their source of food, transportation and a meeting place.
We worked closely with the Kingsclear First Nation to translate their story into Maliseet. We’re honoured to help preserve a part of their culture and history through this project, especially since there are only about 650 Maliseet speakers alive today.
After the Second World War, the demand for electricity quickly grew in New Brunswick. This meant we had to build another source of electricity- The Mactaquac Generating Station.
The construction of the new Station brought thousands of workers to the area. It also saw the loss and birth of several communities near the river. Areas that came out of the Station’s construction were the The Town of Nackawic, the Mactaquac Provincial Park and Kings Landing Historical Settlement. These are all favorite spots for tourists and New Brunswickers to visit.
A few years ago, we discovered problems with concrete expansion in the spillways and powerhouse. This problem is called Alkali-Aggregate Reaction (AAR).
NB Power is now looking at three options for the future of the dam: Repower, Retain the head pond and river restoration. We are conducting several studies to find out how the options might impact New Brunswickers and the environment. We will choose a path forward for the station in 2016.
Have you seen the new centre yet?
Our bilingual tour guides invite everyone to the station every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Labour Day. Tours are available without an appointment and group bookings can be made by calling 462-3886. All you need to bring are closed-toe shoes and a curious mind. The tours aren’t recommended for children under 6 years.
July 13 2015, 08:35 AM
Air sealing is one of the most important upgrades you can make in your home. It’s also inexpensive and easy to do. With a little effort and minimal cost you can do these air sealing upgrades yourself. Following these steps to air seal your home can help lower your heating bills by up to 20% and help make your home more comfortable and less drafty this winter.
Where to check
Air sealing can be done easily and quickly in several areas of the home including electrical entrances, windows, doors, light fixtures, light switches, plugs, baseboards, doors and hatches, and floor joists. Older homes (built before 1970) in particular have many penetrations to the outside, causing drafts and allowing heat to escape.
An easy way to find leaks is to hold a feather or incense stick next to any of the areas listed above. If it’s moving, that means you’ve got an air leak. If proper air sealing has not been done that means cold air can get in and warm air can get out.
Fix the leaks
You’ll need either caulk or spray foam to seal your leaks. Generally, any gaps and spaces less than 3-4cm can be sealed with caulking and anything larger should be sealed with spray foam.
To fix the leak with caulking, just run your caulk gun around the edge of the window to seal it off completely. Caulk is really difficult to get off once dried, so it’s best to apply painters tape to both sides of the joint to help keep things clean. You should also wear gloves when applying caulk to seal your leaks.
Light switches and outlets are another source of air leakage. It’s easy to see and feel the cool air coming in. Inexpensive foam insulators can fix these air leaks easily and quickly. All you need to do is unscrew the switch covers then fit in a foam gasket. Screw the covers back on and you’re all set. If you have outlets on external walls, plug covers can also help keep air from coming in through the outlet itself.
Don’t forget the door
Make it a seasonal chore to check your doors. You should replace weather-stripping if it is dried out, cracked, ripped, compressed or missing, or if it bends at all. Check all the sides of the door and the door sweep underneath.
Make sure the door closes snugly and that there are no gaps along the sides, top of the door or in the space between the threshold and the door bottom. Your weather-stripping ensures a tight seal where the frames meet. It is also inexpensive to replace and helps keep warm air in during the winter, and vice versa in the summer.
Don’t forget that as you make your home more airtight, you will also need to ensure your home is properly ventilated and humidity levels are controlled to prevent moisture and mold problems. Do you have a ventilation system? A heat recovery ventilator will be essential to keeping your home properly ventilated if you’re successful in air sealing.
If you know your home is in need of major air sealing and you want to ensure a thorough and professional job in locating and sealing, your best option may be to call in a professional. Look under Insulation Contractors in your local yellow pages to find a contractor who will work with you to have all sources of leaks and drafts in your home identified and thoroughly sealed.
NB Power is also offering the Home Insulation Energy Savings Program for homeowners to help with insulation and air sealing.