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Get to Know Atlantic Canada’s First Utility Arborist Program

May 4 2017, 10:42 AM

Get to Know Atlantic Canada’s First Utility Arborist Program

The Maritime College of Forest Technology (MCFT) launched a new utility arboriculture college program this February in Fredericton. This program is a joint venture with MCFT, NB Power’s Distribution Vegetation Management team and Arboriculture Canada Training and Education Ltd.

Graduates of this program will complete over 1000 contact hours over the two year program, graduating with a diploma in utility arboriculture in 2019 with over ten separate certificates (such as a Chainsaw Operator Certificate, Herbicide Applicator certificate and ATV Operator Certificate, to name a few.)

The primary objective of this program is to supply a highly skilled and safety-oriented workforce to an industry that is struggling to recruit and retain workers. These individuals have gone through several steps during the admissions phase to ensure they are a best fit to this career, including an online candidate assessment tool called Talent Sorter.

The “tree trimmers” of tomorrow will be more appropriately termed “utility arborists”, with NB Power and MCFT having applied for trade designation and recognition of utility arboriculture as a designated occupation within the province of New Brunswick. Program coordinators have been working closely with counterparts in Ontario and British Columbia (where utility arboriculture is already a designated occupation) to design the curriculum and move toward the goal of red seal designation.

The curriculum includes courses such as Arboriculture Sciences, NB Power Safe Work Practices and Orientation, Electrical Theory and Awareness, Communications and a full suite of technical arborist courses offered through Arboriculture Canada Training and Education Ltd-Canadian leaders in the field of arboriculture. These students will be trained on proper tree rigging techniques both on the ground and high up.

This program is the first of its kind in Atlantic Canada, and has been featured in the Atlantic Forestry Review (Clearing the Lines) and MacLean’s magazine.

After tireless recruitment efforts in a relatively short period of time, 28 students (27 from New Brunswick, one from Ontario) have entered the program and will begin one of two work practicums this June with an NB Power vegetation contractor. They are currently working diligently in the classroom to prepare for their first work practicum, learning everything from vegetation management principles, electrical theory, tree species identification and biology, to pruning, felling and chipping methods.

This represents a significant advancement in the level of training and professionalism in the industry, with 28 bright and engaged individuals who are willing to invest (financially and time-wise) in educating themselves with a goal of working and living in New Brunswick.

 

Feel the difference with water-efficient showerheads

April 27 2017, 14:24 PM

Feel the difference with water-efficient showerheads

Are you looking for a new way to save on your household energy use that doesn’t sacrifice any comfort?

Maybe it’s time to consider a water-efficient showerhead - they use about 50% less water which helps you save on your energy bills.  

The newest water-efficient showerheads have been engineered specifically to maintain water pressure while reducing the flow of water. This means you can still shower under a strong blast if you replace your showerhead.

So how do you know if you’re ready to make the switch?

You can do a simple test to determine if your showerhead is a good candidate for replacement. Start by turning your water fully on and place a two litre jug or container in your tub. If it fills it up in less than 10 seconds, you should consider upgrading to a more efficient model.

What to look for in a showerhead

To find the most efficient showerhead when shopping, look for the ENERGY STAR certified label. These water-efficient models have been tested and rated to be the most efficient and yield the greatest energy savings.  

You should choose a showerhead with a low gallon per minute rating- this is usually on the package. We recommend models with a rating of 1.6 gallons per minute (GPM) or less.

Showers can account for up to 25% of your household’s hot water use. Imagine how much that can begin to cost the more people you add to your home? Here’s a breakdown of what the water use looks like for an average family of three with both a regular and water-efficient showerhead.

If you have kids, you’ll know they love to take their time in the shower. While we recommend limiting your shower to 10 minutes to see added savings on your power bill, it’s not always the case when you have a full house. An efficient showerhead can help limit the amount of hot water used, even if you have a family member who likes to take longer showers.

Use the installation of your efficient showerhead as an opportunity to discuss — as a family — the costs associated with hot water and other energy uses throughout your home.

Until the end of April, you can save even more on water-efficient showerheads with our Smart Habits rebate of $10 on select models at participating retailers.

 

 

Smart Grid Innovation Network: Bringing ideas to life

April 4 2017, 08:56 AM

Smart Grid Innovation Network: Bringing ideas to life

Walking through the hallways leading to the NB Power products and services lab is like traveling through time. Designs on the walls outline the present, past and achievable future of NB Power.

The lab is just one of 3 lab environments that support the incubation of ideas for products and services that will integrate with New Brunswick’s Smart Grid- together, these labs form the Smart Grid Innovation Network.

Who’s involved in the Smart Grid Innovation Network?

NB Power has partnered with Siemens Canada and the University of New Brunswick to create this unique opportunity for companies to bring their Smart Grid visions to life.

It all starts at UNB: it is the idea incubator and physical device research facility.

Siemens comes in to work with products creators to establish connectivity and ensure the product is “Smart Grid ready.” Then the product functionality and effectiveness is tested at the NB Power lab. This lab is the last stop before launching new innovations.

Both Siemens and UNB are indispensable partners in the Smart Grid Network.

The NB Power lab

The hallway leading to the product lab and showroom detail our utility’s history through a timeline of important events that showcase our evolution to this point, and the challenges that face us for the future.

We’ve got one of the most diverse electric systems in North America that already incorporates a lot of renewable energy (wind up north, a little solar, and lots of hydro.)

We’re starting from a good spot, but the challenge remains- finding a way to reduce and shift energy demand to ‘beat the peak’ that happens in the morning between 6-9am and in the evening from 4-8pm.

We are aware of the changing interests and behaviours of our customers. In previous years we didn’t have to know what happens beyond the meters, but now we have to work with customers in order to keep up and grow.

The two-and-a-half year old lab is where NB Power engineers test out new and innovative products. It is ground control for our engineers to monitor the input from smart devices being tested in the field right now in pilot projects.

The product demo room

Here are products that will help you become more energy efficient as well as products that will help us manage your load.

On one wall you will see electric vehicles, solar panels and smart batteries. All are examples of new technologies that are already available.

Smart water heaters are another. We can communicate with them remotely and tell them to consume power when it’s the best time to do so.

Energy efficient products, heat pumps, energy-efficient fridges are on another wall.

On the floor you will see an illustration of Integrated Load Management System. This is the brain behind everything. It is the network which connects appliances to the lab.

Get involved

Do you have an idea for a product or service that would integrate with the Smart Grid? Get in touch with the Smart Grid Innovation network here.

If you’re interested in the changing energy landscape and the opportunities that come with it, you can follow the Energy Innovations Forum- taking place April 4 and 5 in Fredericton, NB at the Fredericton Convention Centre on Twitter with the hashtag #EnergyInnoForum.

 

 

Ice Storm 2017 – A thank you to our customers

February 7 2017, 09:00 AM

Ice Storm 2017 – A thank you to our customers

On behalf of everyone at NB Power who worked on restoration efforts in the wake of the ice storm that hit our province two weeks ago, I want to thank customers for their extraordinary patience and support during this particularly challenging time. After two weeks of incredible work by all our employees and mutual aid partners, we now have all storm-affected customers reconnected to our grid.

The damage left by this storm was some of the most significant our utility has ever seen, with poles toppling over from the weight of ice build-up in the Acadian Peninsula to ice-coated trees contacting with kilometres long stretches of lines in Moncton and Kent County. The work required to bring our customers back online was complex, and difficult weather conditions only added extra challenges for our crews to restore customers in a safe, timely manner.

We are grateful to our partner utilities and contractors who came to help us out in restoration efforts. We also deeply appreciate the support from Premier Brian Gallant, municipal leaders, staff and volunteers from the New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization,the Canadian Red Cross and the Armed Forces who showed leadership and care for our customers in their communities. We also want to acknowledge the hundreds of volunteers who provided comfort and hot food in shelters and warming stations, and who went door to door to ensure our customers were safe and cared for.

These past two weeks have been incredibly trying for our customers and our employees. I spent a week in the areas impacted by the storm and was inspired by the collaboration and goodwill I witnessed from our fellow New Brunswickers. Everyone worked together to ensure that our customers were safe and comfortable and that our crews were well-fed, rested and prepared to restore power in challenging conditions. 

I can’t thank everyone enough for all of the support we have received and I know the crews are very appreciative of all kind words and tokens of appreciation.

We still have crews at work in the Acadian Peninsula responding to the lingering impacts of this system and we will keep working there and elsewhere to ensure our infrastructure remains strong.

During the next few weeks, we will be taking the time to reflect back on our efforts and what we can improve upon for future events, as we always do. 

Winter isn’t behind us yet, and we will continue to monitor future weather events to ensure we are prepared to face whatever those storms bring in order to keep our customers safe and connected.

Again, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you.

Gaëtan Thomas

NB Power President and CEO

Ice storm 2017 - Important resources for customers

February 4 2017, 15:05 PM

Ice storm 2017 - Important resources for customers

After two weeks of incredible work by NB Power employees and mutual aid partners, all storm-affected customers are now reconnected to our grid after an ice storm hit New Brunswick on January 24, 2017.  The intense and prolonged freezing rain knocked out 130,000 customers at the peak of the storm, with more losing power in Northern New Brunswick as the storm raged on in the coming days.

See below for a list of resources and important information if you were affected by the storm.

Power Bills

Are you worried about your power bill after the ice storm? The best thing you can do is call us at 1 800 663-6272 and one of our agents will walk you through the options available to you, from financial assistance, waiving rental charges (water heaters/ dusk to dawn) for one month, setting up payment arrangements to help you avoid falling behind and others.

Some bills will be estimated following the ice storm because it was impossible to read most meters. If you receive an estimated bill, don’t worry. Your next bill should reflect your actual electricity use. In the end, you’ll only be charged for what you use.

We work with several organizations that can help those who are having difficulties with their bills. You can find a list of those groups here.

Give us a call today, so we can work with you to find the best solution for your situation.  

Disaster Financial Assistance Program

The Government of New Brunswick has launched the Disaster Financial Assistance Program, which covers eligible damages and losses that threaten the health and safety of individuals and communities, like repairs to electrical panels.  It does not cover damages or losses for items that are covered by insurance.

It is recommended customers speak with their insurance company to see what could be covered under your plan before applying to this program.

You can apply by phone by calling 1 888 298-8555, in person at warming centres and shelters as well as online.

Red Cross Registration Centre

If you were severely impacted by the ice storm and have no access to food or means to buy it, the Red Cross has opened a registration centre in Inkerman at the community centre at 122 Church Street, which is open 9am until 7pm until February 12. You can also register by phone, toll-free at 1 888 893-1300 from 9 am until 7pm.

If you wish to donate to those New Brunswickers in need, the Red Cross is accepting donations online or by calling 1 800 418-1111 that will go directly to affected communities.

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