June 17 2019, 11:48 AM
Building a smarter grid
As the energy industry continues to transform and diversify, New Brunswickers will have more choices on how they use energy to power their lives. Customer expectations are changing. To keep pace, we are changing too.
Today, we are building the power grid we need tomorrow - a modern digital energy network that will:
- give New Brunswickers more options for saving money, time and electricity
- communicate with us so we can respond to outages more quickly
- connect with renewable energy sources
The electricity grid is a complex system with one important job: to deliver safe, reliable electricity from power plants across New Brunswick to our customers’ homes and businesses. A modern grid is smarter, cleaner, more resilient and efficient.
What a smarter grid means for you
In the future, you may want to do more than use electricity. You may want to produce it and save it for later, like during a power outage. Or maybe you want it to play a different role in your life, not only at home but on the road.
You’ll have more choices and opportunities in the future for how you use energy.
Smart meters and the grid
Smart meters are one step on the journey to a smarter grid. A smart meter looks similar to our current meter. What makes it different is that it allows two-way communication, over a secure network, giving New Brunswickers the information they need to see and manage their energy use.
Picture this- you’re sitting at home catching up on your favorite TV show, and a lost signal message pops up on your screen. In many cases, before you even have a chance to grab your phone and call your provider, your favorite show is back up and running.
When you lose signal, your cable box sends a signal to your service provider to let them know about the issue. With current technologies, they can send a signal back to your box to try to diagnose the problem. Smart meters enable a similar two-way communication.
Utilities with this feature are seeing improved reliability and restoration speed. Their customers appreciate the added convenience.
Let’s look at some of the other benefits of smart meters:
- Knowledge is power
Your online access to detailed energy information will help you make informed usage decisions.
- Save with high bill alerts
You will be able to set up alerts to let you know when your energy use goes up and get tips on how to lower it so you can stay on budget.
- Quicker service
Smart meters enable us to remotely connect and reconnect service to your home so you get quicker service at a time that’s convenient for you.
- Faster power restoration
In many cases, smart meters will send notices to NB Power when the power is out. This allows us to start the restoration as quickly as possible so we can get the power back on faster.
- Greener operations
NB Power can do more work remotely and that means fewer visits and lower carbon emissions.
Meet Sue and Martin Brannon
Here’s a real life example of a couple who are seeing first-hand the benefits of smart meters.
Sue and Martin Brannon were born and raised in New Brunswick, but now share their time between New Brunswick and Florida. They have a smart meter in their home in Florida, which allows them to check their usage, set up bill alerts and receive notices if their power goes out from their home right here in New Brunswick.
June 10 2019, 08:29 AM
Ross Horgan has packed a lot of experience into his 12 years in the nuclear industry.
He graduated from the Electrical Engineering Technology Program at NBCC in 2007, and started working at the Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station later that year as an Electrical Instrumentation & Control Maintainer.
“During my first month on-site I believe some station personnel legitimately thought I was a lost student from Take Our Kids to Work Day,” said Ross. “I took pride in joining the NB Power team and was determined to conduct high-quality maintenance on the digital control computers and plant data logging computers for the reactor. Before my employment with NB Power, I had experience maintaining similar systems, but never in the nuclear industry where each individual learns the unique responsibility inherent with using nuclear technology.”
After becoming a Performance Improvement Coordinator at Point Lepreau in 2015, Ross had the opportunity to learn about the major role the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) plays in the industry. He said it was an eye-opening experience working with the organization on ways to leverage other stations’ lessons learned to help here at home in New Brunswick.
In 2017, Ross had the opportunity to be one of PLNGS’s Host Peers for the WANO Peer Review. Peer reviews help members compare themselves against standards of excellence through an in-depth, objective review of their operations. As a Host Peer, Ross was a member of the evaluation team consisting of international nuclear leaders. This experience gave Ross a new goal for his career- to become an industry leader in nuclear safety.
Last fall, he took another step toward that goal when he was selected as the Young Generation Coordinator for the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) from applicants all over the world. This 18-month secondment involves Ross spending half his time in his role at Point Lepreau, and half working remotely for WANO. This includes travelling worldwide representing and financed by the WANO London office.
As part of this new journey, Ross is focused on improvement initiatives for WANO Young Generation which allows nuclear industry leaders to engage the next generation of nuclear workers.
“I work with the Young Generation in nuclear to ensure they’re aware of the benefits of taking on positions and special projects that develop needed competencies to broaden their understanding of the varied roles and responsibilities within their respective organisations,” said Ross. “Through working with a variety of managers who serve as role models in my professional development I’ve been able to accomplish my career aspirations. It’s beneficial to young generation members to be aware of the professional development opportunities WANO provides.”
For Ross, one of the highlights of this experience so far was the 2019 WANO Young Generation Exchange Assembly he organized and hosted in February. The four-day international conference was based in Paris, France, and included a tour of the Gösgen Nuclear Power Plant in Switzerland. Leadership development opportunities, a look-ahead to nuclear power in 2050 and a discussion on how to engage the next generation were all aspects of the four days involving 20 representatives from Stations in Canada, United States, South Korea, Japan, Armenia, US, Russia, India and United Kingdom.
This summer, Ross will also be a speaker at the Canadian Nuclear Society’s annual conference. He will also moderate a roundtable discussion in Obninsk, Russia at the 65th anniversary of the commissioning for the first grid- connected nuclear power plant in the world.
Mark Power, Point Lepreau Station Director, says that this partnership with WANO not only benefits Ross in his development as a leader, but it is an excellent industry networking opportunity for Point Lepreau.
“We are so proud to have Ross representing Point Lepreau and advocating for the younger generation of the nuclear workforce,” says Mark. “Ross has demonstrated his passion and leadership at our Station for years, so it’s exciting for him to have the opportunity to develop and grow at the international level. Our Station is benefitting from his experience which will assist us as we continue our journey toward Excellence.”
May 14 2019, 12:00 PM
Weekends 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 weekend.
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.
Treat all downed power lines as if they were live. Stay at least 10 metres away from anything the lines may be touching, including water and fences. Never attempt to repair damaged power lines or remove tree limbs from power lines.
If water got into your property
Cleaning up from flooding or opening your summer property this weekend? Please make safety your first priority.
Check your electrical panel for damage. If it is damaged, it must be replaced. Secure a licensed Electrical Contractor.
If your water heater has been damaged by water, contact us immediately. If you need to have your water heater replaced because of flooding, we will be waiving all fees associated with replacing your water for the Spring flood 2018.
If your power was disconnected during a flood, NB Power can safely reconnect your power after these steps have been completed.
If you have a safety concern contact us: 1 800 663-6272
May 9 2019, 13:20 PM
What does it take to energize efficiency? We rounded up some of the top experts in building, industry, marketing and of course, efficiency this week for our second annual Energizing Efficiency Conference to find out.
If you weren’t fortunate enough to be an attendee this year, we captured the top takeaways from our speakers to help spark your own energy efficiency journey.
- “Energy efficiency touches every sector of the economy”, Corey Diamond, the executive director of Efficiency Canada told conference attendees. The efficiency sector is poised for a major breakthrough as a job creator and agent of change. He said the four keys to the sector taking the next step will be moving beyond mere incremental change, unlocking private sector capital, moving towards a more comprehensive “value chain” of efficiency and mobilizing the message. Energy efficiency is Canada’s most plentiful and lowest-cost energy resource.
- How do we Market Energy Efficient Homes? According to Gunther Foerster of Progeny Modern Homes, we need to emphasize the cool factor, do the math and make the business case for a negligible energy bill and higher property values and we need to appeal to homeowners’ desire for a comfortable healthier home for their families.
- Commercial buildings need tune ups too! Building systems can be very complex, highly technical and often require integration between systems. Building use or occupancy can change. And, as equipment ages, its performance can change. Performance problems are often solved by treating the symptoms and not the actual cause. Luc Dugas of Maritech and Adam McMullin of the City of Barrie showed us how building recommissioning offers huge opportunities to save energy, decrease maintenance costs and promote tenant satisfaction and retention.
- Energy is the starting point for municipalities to meet their climate objectives. A Smart Energy Community seamlessly integrates local, renewable and conventional energy sources to efficiently, cleanly and affordably meet all its energy needs. It is a coveted, highly livable place to live, work, learn and play. Your community can get there by taking advantage of energy efficiency, integrating conventional networks, harnessing local energy opportunities and integrating land use. Eddie Oldfield of QUEST and Sara Mudge of NB Power are ready to work with communities in New Brunswick.
- Want to have success in the energy sector selling services, products, equipment, or programs? Mark Jewell is an expert in teaching people how to sell energy and efficiency. He says you need to learn to frame your offering using jargon and yardsticks that mean something to your customer. A manufacturing facility might focus on cost per unit, downtime vs operating time, health and safety incidents, energy cost per unit. A commercial building owner cares about rent per square foot, occupancy percentage, operating expenses, maintenance, or asset value. It’s about doing your research and speaking your customer’s language.
If you like what you see here, you can sign up for conference updates to find out when you can get your tickets to next year’s conference May 12 and 13 in Saint John, New Brunswick. If you’re interested in being a speaker at our conference next year, contact us at EESAdmin@nbpower.com.
April 22 2019, 10:25 AM
As a runner, I know how hard it is to train for a race. Imagine training for a marathon for many years. You work out, you eat the right foods, and you show unbridled commitment. You plan ahead and do everything right.
Now imagine it’s the day of the race and you can almost see the finish line in sight. And then someone decides to move the line – they move the finish line further down the road.
In a sense, that is how NB Power feels about the carbon tax. Let me explain …
In 2015, Canada and 173 other nations agreed to the Paris Accord at the United Nations Climate Change Conference. The goal? A 30 per cent reduction of 2005 greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) levels by 2030.
By 2017, Canada had only reduced its emissions by four per cent over 2005 levels, while New Brunswick had reduced its emissions by 24 per cent.
At NB Power, our team is proud that we are doing our part to help New Brunswick and Canada meet its targets.
By 2017, NB Power had already achieved more than twice the historic goal that was agreed by those nations in Paris. We did this by achieving an outstanding 68 per cent reduction over 2005 levels.
We didn’t achieve these outstanding results by luck. Our results came about as a result of hard work and prudent investments made on behalf of New Brunswick families and businesses.
Our shareholder, the Province of New Brunswick, has also set one of the most aggressive and progressive renewable portfolio standards in the country. This standard states that by 2020 NB Power must serve at least 40 per cent of its energy requirements from renewable sources.
NB Power is on track to meet this ambitious target.
This year, we will surpass the renewable target with approximately 41 per cent renewable production and 77 per cent carbon-free production serving New Brunswick families and businesses.
In order to achieve these results, we decommissioned fossil-fuel-fired generators. We invested significantly, but prudently, in renewable and carbon-free generation sources. We invested in smart grid and customer programs such as Energy Smart NB. And, we have done this while maintaining low and stable rates – minimizing rate increases over the past eight years (averaged slightly more than 1 per cent), and maintaining a diverse generation profile to ensure reliable power for our customers.
We took these steps to build a sustainable grid for New Brunswickers and to reduce electric bills across the province through the efficient and smart use of electricity.
Some key milestones on our mission to decarbonize New Brunswick’s electric system are:
- adding 311 megawatts of wind energy across New Brunswick starting in 2007, for a reduction of 600,000 tonnes of GHG emissions per year
- decommissioning the coal-fired facility at Grand Lake in 2010, for a reduction of 400,000 tonnes of GHG per year
- decommissioning the fossil-fuel-fired facility at Dalhousie in 2012, for a reduction of 1,900,000 tonnes of GHG emissions per year
- refurbishing the world’s first CANDU-6 nuclear reactor in 2012, for a continued reduction of 4,000,000 tonnes of GHG emissions per year
- completing a series of requests for approximately 80 megawatts of new community-based wind energy in 2017, for an anticipated reduction of up to 200,000 tonnes of GHG emissions per year
Looking forward, we have completed extensive public consultations and studied the Mactaquac Life Achievement Project. If pursued, it would continue to save up to 1,300,000 tonnes of GHG emissions per year.
On behalf of our customers, we are also working hard to develop the smart grid of the future through our Energy Smart NB program. It is anticipated that by 2042 this program will see a further reduction of up to 1,100,000 tonnes of GHG emissions per year. That’s 9.5 million tonnes of GHG emissions per year – the equivalent of 2.5 million cars coming off the roads.
We are also pursuing alternative fuels for producing electricity by partnering with an innovative firm that is developing the use of hydrogen, an abundant and GHG-free fuel that could revolutionize the energy industry.
Also noteworthy is our work in advancing nuclear energy, another type of carbon-free electrical generation, with the pursuit of small modular nuclear reactors. This work will make New Brunswick a world-wide centre of excellence in the research, development, and potential demonstration in the next generation of safe and efficient nuclear energy. We have made great progress. At NB Power, our team knows we have more work to do to further reduce our carbon footprint. On behalf of our customers, we are committed to achieving further reductions for future generations through an economically sustainable approach.
Gaëtan Thomas is president and chief executive officer of NB Power.