June 10 2015, 16:31 PM
NB Power has a great relationship with local, New Brunswick-based businesses, who help us keep power lines and infrastructure free from vegetation that could potentially cause power outages when severe weather events happen. One of our contractors, Jeremy How of Asplundh Tree Expert Co.tells us what it’s like to be in the vegetation management business.
What is a tree trimmer?
A tree trimmer would be anyone who works in the Arboriculture business, either commercial or private.
What made you want to work in the tree-trimming business?
Having a back ground in rock climbing I wasn't afraid of heights. I also grew up working part time in the woods on my family property. So, when a job posting came up for a tree climber trimmer, I applied and got it.
How long have you been in the tree-trimming business?
I have been in the industry for 10 years.
What are the main responsibilities of your current position?
The main responsibilities of my current job as manager of Asplundh New Brunswick is bidding and managing contracts, managing our training and safety programs, equipment fleet manager and hiring new employees.
What else does your job involve?
Other duties of my job include getting back into a bucket truck or a tree to work along with the crews when required.
Please describe a typical work day for you.
A typical work day for me begins at 6 a.m. when I drive into our shop on Hanwell Road, in Fredericton. I run through the game plan for the crews in my head to make sure everything will run smoothly.
When I arrive at work, I make sure all the crews leave the yard in a timely manner. After everyone leaves the yard, I have a quick talk with my Project Foreman, who is in charge of direct supervision of the crews. I usually give the crews a couple hours before I visit individual sites to check safety, production and quality.
The afternoons are usually reserved for administrative work and or meetings with NB Power. My day ends usually at 5.30 p.m. although oftentimes, I receive evening phone calls from employees or customers.
What do you find most rewarding about your job?
What’s most rewarding for me is to watch our company grow in New Brunswick. Before I moved back to Fredericton from Halifax, Asplundh had never worked here. Three other employees and I worked on our first contract six years ago. Now we have approximately 50 employees working in New Brunswick.
What keeps you going?
What keeps me going is the fact that so many employees and indirectly their family's rely on the job we provide for them. If I didn't do my job of managing their contracts correctly, they may not have a job the next time we submit a bid for work.
Have you been a part of any of NB Power’s restoration efforts after a major storm?
I have been part of many storm restoration efforts, basically after every major storm we’ve had in the last five years. Our company makes every effort to provide all requested resources during storms. It's very rewarding to watch customers regain their power.
Although our employees love the chance to work the long hours we put in during storms to help out, when the storm is over, it’s very nice coming home and spending time with our families. I feel we have a good relationship with NB Power. They are always open to hear my concerns likewise I am to theirs.
What do you think are the most important things homeowners need to know about tree trimming and their property?
It's very important that homes owners are given notice before we go into their back yards to trim their trees. In my experience if the home owner has a chance to express their concerns and if we explain to them why we have to trim their trees the experience goes much smoothly.
A lot of the time the homeowners want to speak to an NB Power employee rather than a contractor. Also homeowners need to be aware of the dangers of trimming trees around power lines themselves. Most do but we still encounter people who know the danger but do not accept the risks.
Read more about NB Power’s tree maintenance program and the ways contractors like Jeremy prune trees around power lines here.
June 5 2015, 10:29 AM
It has been a long, cold winter. But with trees budding and flowers blooming, it’s time to get your home energy ready for the summer ahead. Taking these small steps can help you reduce your energy consumption during the warmer months, without sacrificing on comfort.
Shut off baseboard heaters
Did you know that heating typically accounts for 50% of an average 3-4 person family’s annual energy bill? Imagine the savings after winter is gone! Shut off your baseboard heaters at the breaker to keep them from kicking in during the summer. Once they’re shut off you can take this opportunity to clean your baseboard heaters. If you vacuum these once a year, it can help you get better air circulation during the cooler months.
Tip: The fins inside your heaters are very delicate, and can bend with even the slightest pressure. So take care when vacuuming as bent fins could also hinder your air circulation.
Turn off HRVAs it gets nicer outside, you may want to open your windows. When windows are open,you are ventilating your home for free, so take the opportunity to shut off your Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV.)
Tip: Doing this after you turn your baseboard heaters are off at the breaker will prevent cool outside breezes from triggering your heaters to turn on.
Clean air filters
Take advantage of having your HRV shut off to make sure it’s working in tip-top shape. Check the manufacturer’s manual for suggested maintenance or get it checked by a certified professional. This maintenance will include cleaning or replacing e the air filters, and verifying that the outside intake and exhaust vents are free of debris. If you have a central heating system it also has filters to clean or change. When these filters become clogged with dirt, the motor works harder, uses more energy and can lead to premature failure of the motor.
Use a clothesline
Add a springy breeze to your clothes by using a clothesline instead of your dryer. This will also help you save on your energy use.
Brighten up your backyard
Use LED lighting products to brighten up your outdoor spaces this summer. Did you know LED’s use up to 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs? You can find even more savings by adding timers or motion sensors to your outdoor lights so they’re only running when you need them.
How do you get your home ready for the summer? Share your tips and tricks with us in the comment section below.
June 3 2015, 08:53 AM
It’s National Electricity Month!
Every June, members of the Canadian Electricity Association (CEA) host or take part in events across Canada to put a focus on all facets of the electricity system to help Canadians learn more about the value it can bring to their everyday lives.
We love the idea of opening our doors and getting into the community to talk about energy and the exciting ways we’re working to make New Brunswick’s energy future better. It’s also a great chance to hear any questions you have about energy in your life.
For National Electricity Month this year, we’re talking about clean, sustainable energy- both what it looks like now and what it could look like in the future.
Energy conservation plays big role in that, which is why we’re hosting our first Smart Habits event at the Fredericton Boyce Farmers Market in Fredericton on June 13. Our education partner, The Gaia Project will join us with their Mobile Energy Centre, a four-meter long trailer decked out with interactive learning tools such as a bicycle generator, a weather station and wind turbines. We’ll also have activities for kids and one of our electric vehicles on site.
We’re also supporting the E-mazing Race as it rolls through New Brunswick this month. It’s a fun and sustainable way for electric vehicle drivers to see Canada this summer. Any participating driver who charges up at an NB Power charging station will receive bonus points on their tour of New Brunswick.
On June 25, we’re opening up the doors at the Mactaquac Generating Station for the public to take one of our new tours of the Station to see how hydroelectricity works and learn more about the history and potential future for the station.
We’ll also be announcing a new program this month designed to help you save money and energy on your bills. Keep your eyes on our Twitter and Facebook sites for more on that. Make sure to follow or like us to keep up to date on all the latest updates, events and activities throughout National Electricity Month.
How are you going to celebrate National Electricity Month? Let us know in the comments below.
May 14 2015, 11:49 AM
The coming long weekend can be a perfect time to get outside and bring your yard back to life after winter. Whether you’re planning on pruning shrubs, cleaning out gutters or getting your cottage ready for the summer, your work could put you near power lines.
Be sure to look up and around for power lines before starting any job around your home this weekend. These lines have the power to injure or even kill. Keeping this in mind will help you and your family have a productive, fun and safe long weekend.
Opening up the cottage
If you’re heading out to get your cottage ready for the summer ahead, make sure to check first to see if any power lines have fallen or become damaged during the winter months. If you see a downed or damaged line, or a tree leaning or fallen onto the line, keep a safe distance and call us at 1 800 663 6272 to disconnect the power and fix the issue.
- Never touch or approach trees in contact with power lines.
- Treat all downed lines as if they were energized. Stay at least 10m away (about the length of a bus) from them and anything they may be touching including puddles of water and fences.
- Never attempt to repair damaged power lines or remove tree limbs from power lines.
Lines are intact, but water got into your cottage?
Use this checklist:
- Check to see if your electrical panel has been damaged. If it’s damaged, you must get it replaced.
- If your water heater has been damaged by water, contact us and we will get a specialist out to assess.
- Call us for an emergency disconnect so the equipment can be replaced safely.
- You must have an electrical inspector from the Department of Public Safety’s Technical Inspection Services, or licensed electrician inspect your panel and wiring and tell you what needs to be done before you can be reconnected.
- The inspector or electrician will fill out necessary permits, complete work and once they've decided it is up to code they will attach a tag to your meter and call NB Power to reconnect you to the grid.
Need to get up and give those gutters a good cleaning? Make sure your ladder is the right height for you to reach your work area comfortably, and safely. If there are power lines nearby, place your ladder at least 3 feet away from the line. If your ladder is too close, electrical arcing can occur, which could result in serious injury for you if you are on the ladder. Here’s an example of what that looks like.
If you need to prune trees near a power line, call us first. If a tree is touching a line, don’t attempt to remove or prune it yourself.
Need a little extra length to use your power tools? Be sure to check your cords for cracks that may expose a wire- this can cause serious shock. If you’re heading out to the hardware store to buy a new cord for your backyard project, make sure it’s CSA approved for outdoor conditions.
Before starting any big construction projects, call us to let us know. We can come assess the area, de-energize wires, locate underground wires and help make your work site as safe as possible.
What else do you do to stay safe while working on the long weekend? Let us know in the comment section below.
May 14 2015, 07:00 AM
The white-silver kitchen timer beeps; break is over.
Jim Wilson and Gail Taylor monitor the washed-out grey sky for dark spotted lines or V-shaped rows through their binoculars. Jim and Gail are members of the Saint John Naturalists’ Club, a non-profit group that has been sending volunteers to count migrating birds at the Point Lepreau Generating Station for 20 years.
The club chose to build the observatory at Point Lepreau, because of how much further it reaches out to the water than other areas along the southern New Brunswick shore. NB Power has worked closely with the club over the past 20 years to make sure they have safe access to the observatory, which falls on the Station’s property.
“Our relationship with NB Power has been wonderful,” Jim says.
NB Power adheres to an Avian Protection Plan and works closely with the New Brunswick Department of Natural Resources to protect and conserve various species of migratory birds- from these sea birds to ospreys- around NB Power facilities during their nesting seasons.
More than just bird watching
When the club decided to build their observatory, information about the species and numbers of sea birds migrating along the southern New Brunswick shore was limited. Now they send the information they collect on these birds to Canadian Wildlife Service – a part of Environment Canada.
The collected data of the past 20 years indicates a 3-4% decline in the number of birds, Jim says. Heavy metals from industrial waste or even small oil spills in Northern Canada are hard to measure, but will have their toll on a bird population over time. A large spill before the New Brunswick coasts could stay for weeks in the bay with the way the water flows and could have devastating effects if it happens at the peak time of migration.
The Canadian Wildlife Services also supports the Saint John Naturalists with recording materials and funding to hire an experienced bird counter for six out of the eight weeks they are counting - starting at sunrise until 10 a.m.
The hired counter guides volunteers in identifying the birds by their body shapes, colours, flight patterns and cadence (the rhythm of how fast their wings move.) Typically the males show off their bright colours, says Jim, while the females have patchy brown feathers that act like a camouflage when they are incubating eggs.
Keeping up with the birds
In intervals of 15 min counting and 15 min break, Jim and Gail spend their morning in the toasty hut while the tide waves roar toward the rocky shore.
“Here, we go, some Scoters are coming,” says Gail and both binoculars turn to the right. First a group of 40 birds fly past the post out front that serves as a mark. Then 50 more, 60, 100. Within two minutes, the number reaches 450 birds. Jim and Gail count by tens to keep up with the constant flow of birds. Then the kitchen timer bleeps. When time is up, all birds that haven’t passed the post aren’t recorded, no matter if it’s a dozen or a hundred. For bird lovers like Gail and Jim, it’s hard to let those pass.
“You never know what’s going to fly by,” says Jim, always hoping for a King Eider, a highly arctic bird that rarely comes down to the New Brunswick shores.
Then he grabs his binoculars as another flock of birds fly by.
See more photos on NB Power's Flickr page