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Winter is Coming – We are Prepared. Are you?

November 6 2017, 15:27 PM

Winter is Coming – We are Prepared. Are you?

The warm weather that we have experienced in the summer and into fall can easily lull one into a sense of complacency – but we all know what is coming our way.

That is why at NB Power, even on blue sky fall days that have set record temperatures, we are working hard to prepare for the winter days ahead. Just as we prepare for the inevitable tough weather events to come, there are many things that you, our customers, can do to be better prepared.

The ice storm of January 2017 was a remarkable event for our province. It was the single biggest weather event that NB Power has experienced in our nearly 100 year history.  It cost more than $30 million and resulted in 600 broken poles, requiring 150 new transformers and 52 kilometres of new distribution lines. At its peak, 133,000 customers were without electricity.

Since this event we have been doing engineering work to strengthen our systems in the Acadian Peninsula and other more vulnerable areas of the province.

In the summer, we put more effort into tree maintenance and have been doing more weather modelling to better prepare for the winter ahead.

Our power lines are built to meet or exceed national standards for the construction of overhead lines.  Many are built to an even higher standard, especially along our coastlines. These standards include weather impact criteria such as ice build-up and wind force based on decades of weather data specific to each region of the country.  

But we also know that we are witnessing a new weather reality in our Province, and NB Power will improve and invest in your grid to ensure it will be able to withstand larger ice loads and stronger winds so that we can deliver power safely and reliably to you. 

We have dedicated the week of Nov. 6-10 as Storm Preparation Week and will be doing a number of outreach programs with our colleagues at the N.B. Emergency Measures Organization, but obviously being diligent and ready for bad weather is a year-round endeavor for us and many of our partners. Last summer for example, lightning and heavy wind events posed particular challenges for our teams and customers in several areas of the province.

There are a number of things you can do to be better prepared. Check the service entrance to your home to make sure there are no trees near it which could result in damage to it in heavy winds. Make sure we have your current contact information. Always have a corded phone in your house or a fully charged cell phone. If you have medical equipment that required power to operate, make sure we know about it.

Have an emergency kit ready with a flashlight, first aid kit, cash, and battery powered radio to stay informed of restoration efforts or other important information.

Visit our web site to learn more about storm preparedness and obtain tips on other ways you can be better prepared.

As we move ever closer to winter, I want to personally thank you, our customers, for your patience, support and perseverance as we learn, understand and prepare for the impact of future storms.

We will always work hard to improve reliability and strengthen our distribution systems and we thank you for working with us as we move forward to meet the challenges in the months ahead.

Above all, your safety and comfort is vitally important to us – as is your trust.  We will continue to work towards improvements each and every day to maintain that trust. 

Gaëtan Thomas

President and CEO

NB Power

Huge transformer finds new home in Keswick

October 27 2017, 13:16 PM

Huge transformer finds new home in Keswick

It’s not every day you can walk out your front door to see a 260 tonne transformer cruising past your house. But for Keswick Ridge and Burtt’s Corner residents, that was the case this past weekend.

This new transformer made its way through the area for the final leg of its journey to the NB Power terminal in Keswick. It’s one of the largest of its kind in the province!

After being built in the Netherlands, it was shipped to Halifax, arriving in September. From there, it continued its journey by rail to Napadogan. Here, it was loaded onto  an equally big trailer for a 3.5 day trip along mostly backroads to its new home. A full convoy of trucks, escort vehicles and flaggers were on hand to make the journey smooth and safe for everyone involved and watching nearby.

 

The Keswick terminal is an important part of New Brunswick’s electric grid. There are 2 power systems that run at the highest voltage levels (345 kV and 230kV) – and a 3rd at a lower voltage of 138kV - to take power from our stations and interconnections to areas it’s needed in the province. The Keswick terminal brings these systems together.

Generating stations in Southern New Brunswick - including Mactaquac - and one of our interconnections with the US go through this terminal. Most of the power that serves Fredericton and surrounding areas also comes through Keswick.

So, how does a transformer work?

It takes energy that comes in at one voltage level and changes it to another- either making it higher (up to 345kV) or lower (down to 230kV.)  

This is different from a substation, which takes higher voltages of energy on the transmission system and brings it to a lower level for the distribution system. Once on the distribution system, the smaller, pole-top transformers you see in your neighborhood help bring that voltage down to a safe level for your home.

 

This new transformer will add extra capacity at the Keswick terminal and help make the power grid more flexible and resilient. This allows us to continue to bring safe, reliable power to you and your family.

 Check out the video below to see the transformer on the move!

 

7 ways to use less energy this Thanksgiving

October 6 2017, 11:07 AM

7 ways to use less energy this Thanksgiving

Juicy turkey, fluffy stuffing and rich potatoes; Thanksgiving is a time to connect with family and loved ones. While you get ready for- and enjoy- the big meal, help your home take a power break with these 7 easy energy-saving tips that will keep your Thanksgiving guests and your wallet happy.

1. Your oven will heat some parts of your home while in use, allowing you to comfortably lower the thermostat a few degrees.

2. Speaking of ovens, the convection settings can save you time and energy. The convection settings on your oven use fans to continuously circulate hot air around your food. This will cook your food faster, reducing your oven and energy use.

3. You can further reduce your oven use by planning side dishes that can be cooked at the same time as your turkey – on the stove, in a slow cooker, in the microwave, or in the oven next to the turkey itself!

4. Glass and ceramic pans and trays retain more heat and can reduce your required cook time and/or oven temperature requirements.

5. Use lids when cooking on the stove to cook foods quicker.

6. Have a large family or several loved ones attending dinner? Consider holding a potluck. If everyone brings one or two dishes, your home’s energy use won’t be as high.

7. Use your ENERGY STAR® certified dishwasher for clean-up – it actually uses less water than handwashing dishes. Scrape dishes beforehand to avoid pre-rinsing.

EV gearhead finds worry-free travel with eCharge Network

September 11 2017, 16:19 PM

EV gearhead finds worry-free travel with eCharge Network

As a certified gearhead, I love a good road trip. This summer, I wanted to find out if it was possible to travel from Montreal, Q.C. to Halifax, N.S. without burning a drop of gasoline. In New Brunswick, thanks to NB Power’s eCharge Network, I was easily able to travel across the province solely on electric power. 

One of the traditional arguments against all-electric cars has been their range, or lack thereof. Fears of “ohmygawdwillimakeit” used to be a common deterrent for people considering an EV, brought upon by a combination of small on-board batteries that didn’t hold much juice and an anemic network of charging stations.

NB Power’s eCharge Network, a series of public electric car charging stations strategically placed at popular locations throughout the province handily solves the charging station issue. My car for the journey, a Chevrolet Bolt capable of at least 383km on a single charge, erased any hint of range anxiety. Together, they made the perfect pair.

My first stop to fill up on electrons was at the popular Shell station on Grey Rock Road, right off the highway just outside of Edmundston. The eCharge Network charging station, in a spacious corner of the parking lot, was brightly coloured and easy to find. Two charging options are always available at the eCharge Network’s fast-charging sites: a “Level-2” charger, which will fully charge the typical EV in about 7 hours and is perfect for a top-up on shorter trips, and a DC “fast charger”. Knowing my route took me across the province, I selected the “fast charger”, which fills an EV’s battery to 80% in about half an hour.

Activating the station was easy. Prior to hitting the road, I had downloaded the eCharge Network app onto my smartphone and quickly set up an account. With the Grey Rock charging station selected in the app and the station’s charger plugged into the Bolt, I pressed the “Start a Session” button displayed in the app. Within seconds, the charging station displayed a “Ready” message. Pushing the machine’s big, green Start button produced a satisfying thunk and the Bolt’s message centre confirmed it was now hoovering electricity from the NB Power electrical grid. The process was no more complicated than getting gas and paying at the pump in a conventional car.

NB Power has done a great job selecting locations for the eCharge Network, as I had ample selection of places to grab a snack and use wi-fi to catch up on emails. As I waited, another EV driver pulled up to the charging station and used the Level-2 charger. That EV driver used their eCharge Network card to activate the station rather than the app. Chatting with him, he remarked to me how pleased he was with NB Power’s charging station installations. His opinion carried weight – turns out he has travelled over 100,000km in three years with his EV!

My other two charging stops, at the Irving Big Stops near Fredericton and Salisbury, were equally pleasant and carefree. In a tremendous spurt of happenstance, the charging station in Salisbury is directly adjacent to an ice cream parlour. Tasty treats and zero emissions? That’s a win-win if I ever heard one.

The well thought out eCharge Network made it easy to drive across New Brunswick in the all-electric Chevy Bolt. By taking the lead on clean motoring, NB Power sets the table for New Brunswick residents who are considering buying an EV or plug-in hybrid while, at the same time, making the province more a lot more accessible for current owners of those types of cars.

Be sure to check out all the details of the eCharge Network, along with a map of charging stations.

 

Living in rural Nova Scotia, Matthew Guy has immersed himself in car culture for over 30 years and relishes the thought of a good road trip. A certified gearhead, he enjoys professionally writing about cars.

His work has appeared on wheels.ca, HybridCars.com, and in CAA Magazine. Find him on Facebook and Instagram as Dude Drives Cars and on Twitter @DudeDrivesCars

Insulation Upgrades help Beresford Couple save big on heating bills

August 25 2017, 11:07 AM

Insulation Upgrades help Beresford Couple save big on heating bills

After moving to New Brunswick and seeing their first winter heating bill, Linda Roy and her husband, Jerry, were shocked - it was well over $600. Wanting to lower their winter heating bills, Linda started looking for ways to improve her home’s energy efficiency. That’s when she came across NB Power’s Home Insulation Energy Savings Program and thought it could be the help they needed. 

After scheduling a home energy evaluation and receiving a list of recommended energy upgrades, Linda and Jerry worked closely with her contractors, Couture Builders and Renovators to air seal throughout their home, insulate her basement and Maritime Refrigeration to install two ductless heat pumps. It’s important to choose a good contractor, and Linda found great tips for hiring hers through NB Power’s website.

With their upgrades finished, they had an energy advisor back in to do a second evaluation. 

“We knew almost immediately what to expect for our financial returns from the program,” Linda said. “NB Power staff offered us great comfort to know that we were not going to see those high bills from our first winter again.” 

The Roys have seen significant savings in their energy costs. They got $2698 in incentives back from NB Power. They also find their home more comfortable and the air quality much better. Linda has a chronic illness and needs to maintain consistent temperatures in her home. 

“We purchased two heat pumps, one upstairs and one downstairs,” she said. “The upstairs one was purchased prior to the insulation being put in- this brought significant savings, but once the insulation was installed, it was far better.  I would say almost 70% savings overall. Now I can sleep in comfort, whether it is winter or summer, and know that my illness will be better controlled with the consistent temperatures.”

 

What about those high heating bills? Since completing the Home Insulation Energy Savings program, Linda and Jerry haven’t had a bill over $250 in the past 2 years.

Not sure how your home measures up? Book a home energy evaluation for only $99. You will get a full list of recommended upgrades and some free energy efficient products installed. You’ll be eligible for money to help you pay for the work, plus you’ll enjoy significant energy savings for years to come. 

Visit our website to register or call us at 1-800-663-6272 and press 5 for Efficiency Services.

What would you do with some extra money in your pocket?  Visit our Facebook page and tell us for a chance to win 1 of 3 great prizes- contest runs until August 25, 2017.

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