September 9 2022, 12:43 PM
Diane Spencer, NB Power’s Residential Energy Efficiency Lead, has received the Canadian Home Builders’ Association’s (CHBA) biggest accolade: its Hall of Honour Award.
The Hall of Honour Award recognizes a CHBA member’s extraordinary contributions to the Association and/or New Brunswick’s residential construction industry.
The Hall of Honour is usually reserved for past presidents of the CHBA, which makes Diane receiving this honour even more impressive!
While she is passionate about all things energy efficiency now, Diane’s career started in a different part of the energy industry.
Since 2001, Diane has worked at NB Power, having started in Reactor Safety at the Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station. Diane moved into energy efficiency in 2016 as the program lead for residential energy efficiency and runs the Total Home and New Home energy saving programs.
Joining the efficiency team meant a shift from working behind the scenes to a more customer-centric role for Diane. Their team works to help New Brunswickers maximize their energy savings and improve quality of life in the process.
Since 2016, Diane, the energy efficiency team and the CHBA have provided energy efficiency training to builders, energy advisors, heating and ventilation contractors, building officials, real estate agents, and customers in the residential construction industry.
“There has been a remarkable difference working with home builders since Diane entered the picture,” said Claudia Simmonds, Chief Executive Officer of the CHBA’s New Brunswick Branch. “That’s why she was chosen for this award. Because she showed up and just changed the course with her enthusiasm and collaboration.”
Diane, who lives in Saint John with her family, is honoured to receive the award.
“Energy efficiency is good for the environment by reducing energy use, good for the New Brunswickers by reducing their bills and making their homes more comfortable and it’s good for the economy,” said Diane. “I continue to look forward to what we can do together to support each other in advancing the residential energy efficiency for this province. We are making people’s lives better today and for our future generations.”
We are so proud of Diane’s accomplishments throughout her career and can’t wait to see what she does next. Congratulations Diane!
August 12 2022, 08:30 AM
Earlier this summer, we partnered with Plug’n Drive to give New Brunswickers a chance to take an electric vehicle (EV) for a spin.
The idea behind our EV Test Drive Tour was simple: giving New Brunswickers in five communities the opportunity to learn from EV drivers in our region and get behind the wheel to experience it first-hand.
The general theme of drivers’ feedback?
For many, the EV Test Drive Tour was their first time getting in an EV, let alone driving one.
There were plenty of EVs to test drive; whether you wanted to cruise in the Tesla Model 3, go for a ride in the Hyundai IONIQ 5 Electric, take a spin in the Volvo XC40 Recharge or drive the Chevrolet Bolt, there was something for everyone.
Beyond the test drives, Plug’n Drive’s Mobile Electric Vehicle Education Trailer was a big attraction with its interactive displays and EV Ambassadors ready to answer EV-related questions.
The tour visited Saint John, Fredericton, Riverview, Bathurst and Grand Falls, spending Thursday to Sunday in each community.
For Luc Roberge and his son Simon in Grand Falls, who took the IONIQ 5 and the XC40 for a drive, found the cars “powerful and quiet” and left them thinking that an EV was in their future.
“The test drive was awesome,” said Luc. “The thing I like the most is you don’t need brakes as much.” This is because electric vehicles use a process known as regenerative braking, which takes the kinetic energy of your vehicle and uses it to slow down. It also means less wear and tear on your brakes and greater stopping power.
In each community there was a great turnout with lots of engagement and questions from interested New Brunswickers who took more than 600 test drives and had lots of positive comments about the experience.
Sarah Sherman is a proud EV owner from Fosterville, NB. She enjoyed connecting with New Brunswickers at test drives in Fredericton and Riverview as one of Plug’n Drive’s local EV ambassadors and would be thrilled to do it again in the future.
“These events were a really great way to help dispel myths and misconceptions about EVs and learn more as a new EV owner myself,” said Sarah. “At one event there was a couple who were split on whether to get an EV. By the time they left, they were both converted and were going to find one to order. Another fellow was so impressed, he and his wife came back four times in one day and placed an order for the Chevy Bolt the same day!”
The test drive tour was hosted by generous local site owners. The successful events were made possible with the support of TD Station, the Capital Exhibit Centre, Sobeys Riverview, the Atlantic Host Inn and the Centre E.&P. Sénéchal Center.
We’re thrilled by the positive response to the tour and hope to do more events like this in the future. The future is electric!
June 21 2022, 10:02 AM
What started as curiosity about traditional First Nations drumming and singing has led Krista Paul to adventures she never expected.
Krista has been a member of the Corporate Communications team since spring 2021 and is a proud member of the St. Mary’s First Nation.
Her traditional Maliseet name is Mehkwekek Wissekonosotowi-ehpit, which means Red Shawl Woman. And in 2016, she founded Pokəholakənəl Witsehkehsolticik - Sisters of the Drum, an all women Maliseet drumming group.
“When I saw older women passionately singing and drumming for the first time, I was in awe,” Krista said. “I knew I wanted to be part of that, but I was definitely not a singer!”
After spending some time looking for a group to join, in 2016 Krista put out a call on Facebook to see if other local women were interested in starting a group. She was surprised when 27 women of all ages showed up. Some knew Maliseet well, and others only knew a few phrases.
They began to meet weekly and teaching themselves songs with the help of CDs and lots of patience. They would listen to songs by artists like Elder Dr. Maggie Paul and the Negootgook Drummers from Tobique over and over, replicating the sounds and rhythm.
The drum represents the heartbeat of a mother. Krista says that’s why you feel so connected and emotional when you hear it – you’re brought back to your mother’s womb. The circular shape of the drum represents interconnectedness to one another, and the cedar hoop and animal skin is indicative of First Nations connection to the land and animals. Krista now owns four drums, including one made by her sister in a cultural course. The material used creates different sounds based on thickness – from elk to deer and moose.
The group kept practicing, growing more confident and connected. The first time they performed in public was 2017 at the Take Back the Night event in Fredericton. The event is part of a global movement to stand up against sexual violence – a cause that Krista is particularly passionate about.
“Violence against women, especially Aboriginal women, is something that we cannot allow to continue,” said Krista. “Marching in the streets with other women, singing our hearts out with our drums, was a magical experience.”
From there, word quickly spread about Pokəholakənəl Witsehkehsolticik, leading them to many performance opportunities, from funerals to large scale events.
Since the group started performing, they’ve had some major highlights, including
- opening the 2017 State of the Province Address
- being nominated for the Indigenous Artist of the Year at the Music NB Awards in 2022
- participating in Drums Across Canada 2021, which was live streamed from five communities
- performing at the Wolastoq Treaty Day 2022 event
- singing with Jeremy Dutcher at the Atlantic Ballet’s celebration of 20 years of dance
Krista said the support and fanfare has been surprising and thrilling. She especially loves interacting with children to share her culture and excite them about music. She never expected when the group started that she and her sister would become role models and community leaders.
“Our group is proof that when a group of women put their minds together, they can achieve anything,” said Krista. “We’ve become sisters and are more connected to our culture - from language and history to tradition and song. Drumming has given me the opportunity to find a place where I belong. It’s humbling and so rewarding.”
June 17 2022, 10:03 AM
NB Power’s Energizing Efficiency Conference made a strong comeback last week, after a three-year hiatus due to pandemic restrictions.
The 2022 event took place June 7 and 8 at the Saint John Trade and Convention Centre. More than 280 people attended the conference and dinner, representing diverse business sectors, organizations and education centers.
From municipal utilities to efficiency service organizations and technology firms to not-for-profits, it was a great mix of participants, leading to exciting conversations and ideas.
Here are our top three takeaways from the conference:
Our conference was the first large in-person event in a long time for many attendees. There was a genuine sense of excitement about being together in the same room, instead of a virtual meeting like many are now used to. There were countless opportunities for networking; some attendees met for the first time, while others had the chance to reconnect and catch up after years apart.
Beyond the typical exchange of business cards and handshakes, we also saw lots of digital connections made through our conference app and LinkedIn.
One attendee shared that the first morning of the conference felt like the first day of school, with everyone trying to remember social etiquette after a long break. Those who had first day jitters quickly shook the feeling as they settled into a full agenda of keynotes and breakout sessions.
The calibre of presenters and the information they shared was top-notch. Several attendees said the Energizing Efficiency Conference was on par or better than any they’ve attended.
There was something for everyone, with a full agenda to allow you to tailor your experience to your knowledge and interests. There were two keynotes: The Future of Transportation in Canada by Nino Di Cara, President and Founder, Electric Autonomy Canada, and Energizing Efficiency by Embracing Your Inner Sales Professional by Mark Jewell, President, Selling Energy.
Throughout the two-day event, knowledgeable experts shared their learnings and perspectives on topics from helping low income homeowners to building code developments, and from First Nations sustainable building projects to managing HVAC systems.
A common theme throughout the sessions focused on the many reasons for people to care about energy efficiency, including climate change, cost-savings, comfort, productivity, safety and demonstrating environmental leadership.
Electric vehicles were also a topic on everyone’s mind, with a Tesla parked in the tradeshow hall and test drives offered to attendees through our EV Test Drive Tour with Plug’n Drive.
The most thrilling takeaway is the collaboration between everyone at the conference. You could see the “AHA” moments happening throughout the convention centre as individuals came together and recognized how they could work together to fulfill common goals.
People left sessions feeling inspired and bubbling over with excitement about how to take what they had learned and the connections they had made back to their organizations to be able to help even more New Brunswickers.
Ideas for projects and research came to light even during the question-and-answer portions of presentations, showing that putting the right people together can result in amazing things.
Tracey Somers, our Conference Lead, was thrilled by the feedback from attendees.
“To be able to offer a first-class conference experience here in New Brunswick makes us incredibly proud,” Tracey said. “Bringing together energy and community leaders to network and learn and ultimately, help New Brunswickers save energy, help the environment and drive our economy, is really what the conference is all about.”
Plans are already underway for the 2023 conference. Connect with us if you have topic or speaker ideas.
A special thank you to our conference sponsors:
Conference App Sponsor
January 21 2022, 10:19 AM
With extremely cold temperatures across the province last week, we asked everyone to reduce their energy consumption to help New Brunswick Beat the Peak.
And it worked!
Peak electricity demand happens in the morning from 6 until 9, and in the afternoon from 4 until 8, when most families begin and wind down their days.
Thanks to the many customers who made small changes to reduce or delay energy use during peak demand periods, we reduced the need to use the most carbon-based energy to power New Brunswick during the cold snap.
Here’s how high in-province demand peaked last week:
January 11, 8-9 a.m. - 3,028 megawatts (MW)
January 11, 6-7 p.m. - 2,936 MW
January 12, 8-9 a.m. - 3,177 MW (second highest demand of all-time!)
The record for peak electricity demand in New Brunswick happened in January 2004, at 3,326 MW in the morning. For comparison, we only need about 1,500 MW to meet the needs of customers on a typical summer morning.
It’s our job to meet New Brunswickers’ energy needs all year-long and we had an opportunity to reduce the need for the most expensive energy. It was important for us to do our part, so early last week, many of our employees took steps to be ready for the peak periods.
- Teams identified and implemented energy savings at NB Power generating stations and offices to reduce our own consumption. These actions included lowering temperatures in unoccupied spaces and delaying the operation of some of our equipment in our plants.
- Generation employees readied and tested our reserve combustion turbine energy sources at Millbank, Ste. Rose and Grand Manan so they’d be ready if needed.
- We dispatched our Peak Rebate Program, where 50 commercial and industrial customers who have signed up to work with us on peak demand through the winter months take action to reduce energy use for two-hour periods.
- Our Key Account Specialists reached out to dozens of business customers who represent much of the energy use in the province. Most business owners and managers said that they appreciated the heads up and chance to make changes that would help them manage energy costs as well.
- We partnered with municipal electric utilities in the province, including Saint John Energy who issued its own Shave the Peak alerts for their customers.
- We shared information with New Brunswickers on social media, by email and on local radio stations to encourage everyone to join the effort.
Jean Marc Landry, NB Power’s Chief Customer Officer, is energized by New Brunswickers’ enthusiasm and interest in beating the peak. Many energy companies engage customers to help manage peak demand events in North America.
“It was great to hear how receptive our business customers were to making adjustments to their operations for a couple of days,” said Jean Marc. “They recognized that saving energy would not only help the province, but their bottom lines.”
Since this was the first time in years that NB Power asked customers to help Beat the Peak for specific dates, there were lots of discussions and questions.
“We recognize that this is a difficult time for many New Brunswickers, especially with so many working and learning from home,” said Jean Marc. “Thank you to all customers who made a small change to their routines to help lower overall demand of electricity during the morning and early evening periods. Together, we were able to avoid using the most expensive and least environmentally sustainable energy sources, which benefits the whole province.”
Thankfully, cold snaps like the one experienced last week are temporary, and so are our requests for New Brunswickers to use less power. But saving energy is always a good thing to do, for managing your power bill and helping the environment.
Thank you, New Brunswick!