March 3 2021, 09:09 AM
Have you ever wondered what happens after you call NB Power to report an outage? If it happens during a storm, rest assured that lots of work has already taken place to ensure the duration of the outage is as short as possible for our customers. In this post, and through a series of articles to be featured throughout this month, we will take you behind the scenes of our power restoration efforts.
Before the storm
With 20,815 km of line – which is enough to stretch across Canada four times - getting the power back on after a major storm is a big job. That’s why we are constantly monitoring the weather to anticipate storms and we take action before outages happen.
You may be asking yourself; how can you prepare without knowing what will happen? Our team works year-round to minimize the impacts of outages – from equipment maintenance, vegetation management, weather monitoring and software improvements - a whole lot of effort goes into maintaining and restoring power.
We also leverage new technologies to better prepare for storms. Our Transmission and Distribution Field Operations Emergency Planning team constantly monitors the weather, and with the use of various tools, they can assess the estimated number of outages and determine where they will most likely hit.
As soon as we see the potential for outages, we determine if we need to pre-emptively dispatch crews. This is called “staging”. When crews are staged, they are placed in specific areas, and are ready to get to work as soon as it is required. If we know a big weather event is coming our way, on top of staging our NB Power crews, we secure additional contractor crews in areas throughout the province predicted to experience the worst effects of a storm.
During the restoration effort
The safety of our customers and employees is our top priority. That’s why, when a storm is still raging and visibility and road conditions are bad, our crews are sometimes not able to get to access the damage immediately. But as soon as it is determined safe, we activate our power restoration plans.
Our goal is always to restore power as quickly and safely as possible. To achieve this, we need to set priorities. During an outage, you may notice that some areas have their power restored before others. This can happen because many different faults can cause an outage. Whenever this happens, NB Power must prioritize which faults will be addressed first.
We direct our resources to address the following issues in order of importance: first, we check the system and repair damage to power plants, transmission lines and substations. Then, we restore power to critical services such as hospitals, police, fire, water and communication systems. At the same time, we determine where we can make repairs that will return service to the largest number of customers in the least amount of time, such as high-density housing and large neighbourhoods. Finally, we restore power to smaller neighbourhoods and individual customers.
During storms, you may be concerned if you don’t see NB Power crews close to your home. That doesn’t mean we are not working on restoring your power. The damage to our distribution system can be far from your neighbourhood, but still impacts it.
Sometimes the cause of an outage may be difficult to locate or access, which can impact the time it takes our teams to restore your power. As soon as our team assesses the cause of an outage and initiates the plan to fix it, our website displays an estimated time when power will be restored. We update those pages with information from the field as soon as it becomes available. In some cases, this means these estimates can change. But our team will continue to work as safely and efficiently as possible until everyone is restored.
January 21 2021, 09:56 AM
With a need for blood donations here in New Brunswick and across the country, we wanted to shine a light on employees giving the gift of life through Canadian Blood Services.
The top obstacle for most new blood donors is getting over their fear of needles. When longtime NB Power employee Erik Matchett started giving blood in 2014, he was admittedly a little nervous, too.
“My wife couldn’t believe that I was going to give blood,” Erik says, thinking back to his first donation. “My family thinks of me as kind of a wuss when it comes to pain and gore. But giving blood was no big deal!”
Erik Matchett, a Change Readiness employee in the Fredericton area.
The first donation went well and Erik never looked back. He schedules regular donations and aims to bring a friend or co-worker to each appointment.
“I feel it’s really important to give back,” says Erik. “Giving blood definitely isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it works for me. It is really meaningful to know that my blood could help save the life of a fellow New Brunswicker. The average donation can save three lives.”
As a Manager in our Learning and Change Team, Erik supports his colleagues with updates impacting people, processes and equipment. As NB Power works to modernize the electrical grid, Erik’s team is busier than ever, helping employees get used to new technologies and ways of doing business.
Similarly, Erik says that Canadian Blood Services is modernizing to keep with the times.
“They’ve developed this great mobile app that allows you to keep track of appointments and urgent needs for donation,” Erik says. “Even cooler is that the app tracks your bleed time – how long it takes to get your donation – so you see friendly little competitions between regular donors.”
Feeling inspired after chatting with Erik about his experience, Marketing and Communications employee Jackie Leger visited blood.ca to check eligibility and register for an upcoming clinic. But when she heard a radio ad over the holidays asking for donors, she moved up her appointment to December 23.
“I was pretty worried about fainting,” said Jackie. “But from the moment I arrived, the staff put me at ease and walked me through the steps. Even with uncooperative veins in my right arm, a talented nurse was able to get the full 450 ml donation from my left arm. It was pretty amazing to watch that bag fill up.”
Jackie Leger, a Marketing and Communications employee in the Saint John area.
From start to finish, Jackie’s first donation took about one hour including assessments, the donation itself and monitoring before heading home. She says she was surprised by how little the donation process hurt.
“The little prick test for hemoglobin hurt way more than the big needle,” she says. “I felt a little less energetic than normal in the hours after my donation, but more than anything I felt proud and happy to know my blood will help those in need. It is such a quick and easy way to help others – I’m not sure why I waited so long to do it!”
Erik and Jackie have already scheduled their next donations and are challenging other colleagues to join them. While COVID-19 has impacted donation levels, they both felt very safe with the screening measures and enhanced safety protocols to keep donors, staff and volunteers safe.
If you’re interested in giving blood, visit blood.ca today to find a location near you!
December 8 2020, 11:26 AM
For many New Brunswickers, this will be the first winter that family members will be home on weekdays, whether they’re working remotely or doing virtual learning.
This pandemic-related lifestyle change has many impacts, from less lonely pets to going through more groceries.
Telecommuting can also result in higher than expected energy bills because people are home more often.
That’s why we want to share these 12 easy energy saving tips. By making small adjustments at home, you can save energy and reduce your bill – all while helping the environment.
You can find these tips and more by accessing the My Energy Portal on our website. If you’re ready to make upgrades to your home’s efficiency, check out the advice and incentives offered through our Total Home Energy Savings Program.
Manage your technology
- Set your computer and monitor to go into "sleep" or "hibernate" mode after 20 minutes of inactivity. These modes draw less power while keeping programs open for when you return to work. Don’t bother with a screensaver – it uses just as much energy as an active computer.
- Don’t forget to turn off your computer at night and on weekends. This could save you up to one-third of your computer’s energy costs.
- Many electronic devices continue to draw power even when they are turned off – this is known as phantom power. By unplugging devices and chargers when they are not in use, you can avoid paying for this extra energy. This includes devices such as TVs, video game systems, printers, coffee makers and cell phone chargers. If a device has a rectangular adapter box on its plug that stays warm, it’s a sure sign that it’s drawing power even when off.
- Consider using power bars for devices that are difficult to unplug frequently. With a flip of the switch, you can easily cut off power to multiple devices at once, saving time, energy, and money.
- When purchasing new home office equipment, always choose ones that are energy efficient.
Optimize your lighting
- Take advantage of natural light to reduce your need for artificial lighting. Plus, natural light is known to be good for your mental health and productivity.
- While overhead bulbs can brighten a space, they often use more light than you need. Using a kitchen counter light while preparing dinner, or a small lamp to read, brings better light to the task at hand and saves energy. Using directed light while working also reduces eye strain.
- Switch bulbs to LEDs to reduce the amount of electricity used. Consider using smart bulbs with timers or phone apps to customize your lighting colour, timing and brightness.
Adjust your heating
- Put on a cozy sweater and try lowering your thermostat a few degrees. You can save about 2% on your heating bills by simply turning your thermostat down 1°C for eight hours. A cooler workspace can also improve alertness.
- Run ceiling fans at low speed in reverse during the winter, which creates an updraft that sends warmer air pooled near the ceiling back down into the living space.
- Check your heating system air filters and replace them if they are dirty. Clean filters use less energy and reduce the strain on your system.
- Let the sun help heat your home. South-facing windows have the most potential for heat gain. Keep the drapes open and windows clear in order to let the most light in.
December 3 2020, 10:58 AM
Lots of New Brunswickers are already getting their homes ready for the holidays - and we can’t blame you – it’s been a challenging year. As we head into the holiday season, here are some helpful ways to become more energy efficient and save money this year.
If you’re still using older traditional lights, consider making the switch to LEDs. Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) transform most of the energy that they consume into visible light rather than heat.
This means holiday LEDs use about 85-90% less electricity than traditional bulbs. They also last up to 50x longer – so you won’t be replacing them as often. Holiday LEDs will also save you money!
How much? It depends on the amounts of lights you use and what type you were using before.
Check out this cost comparison*:
$43.66 per month
$1.24 per month
That’s 97% less in energy costs!
*Comparison based on 6 strings of lights operating for 6 hours/day for 31 days
Timers are another great way to manage your décor’s energy use. Set a weatherproof timer to have your holiday lights turn on at dusk and turn off at bedtime.
You can also find solar options for driveway stakes, floodlights and other decorations – which means they won’t add to your power bill and you don’t need to worry about running extension cords!
November 18 2020, 14:19 PM
We know that our customers rely on us as their energy experts to keep the power on with as little disruption as possible. Our team of utility arborists is a big part of keeping our lines healthy to reduce power outages.
Most utility arborists in our region don’t have experience cutting back palm trees in Florida after a category 1 hurricane. But that’s exactly the kind of experience that makes Brad Daley such an asset to NB Power.
Before joining the NB Power team as the Vegetation Manager for Distribution, Brad built up his expertise with a vegetation management contractor in North Carolina and as a Florida Power and Light employee. He faced almost daily storm and trouble calls and regular large tropical storms and hurricanes.
Beyond the frequency of storms, he says there are many differences between working in the south and Atlantic Canada.
“We can’t even compare the number of people in New Brunswick,” Brad says. “There were more residents in my county in Florida than in all of New Brunswick! This makes for very different planning and working conditions. Plus, the types of trees we work on affect the work plan. Vegetation in the southern US grows much quicker than vegetation here in New Brunswick, so our maintenance schedules are different.”
Brad leads the team of Vegetation Supervisors, administrative support, utility arborists and contractors responsible for maintaining the trees around our 27,000 kilometres of high and medium voltage lines across the province.
“People think in my role that I must dislike trees, but I love trees and respect the value they play in our communities – both in terms of beauty and environmental benefits,” he says. “We only cut when we need to – it’s about balancing reliability and what’s right for our communities and customers.”
A New Brunswicker through and through, Brad grew up in picturesque Miramichi, and is a proud alumnus of UNB’s Forest Management program. Like it does for many, his New Brunswick roots called him back in 2013 to be closer to his family.
He’s proud to oversee a talented team of employees and contractors who bring their skills and training to a high-risk job.
“Sometimes people assume we’re just out there hacking away at random trees with chainsaws,” he says. “That’s why we don’t like to be called “tree trimmers” - our employees and contractors are experts in their field, with many trained in tree biology and are International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) certified arborists. We deal with living, breathing organisms and do extensive training and testing to ensure we’re doing the right things for our province.”
Want to learn more about how we maintain the trees near power lines? Visit www.nbpower.com/treemaintenance. Here you’ll find videos about this important work to prevent power outages and a form to access tree maintenance for your home or business.