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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.

Wind Energy: How does it work?

January 11 2017, 09:31 AM

Wind Energy: How does it work?

The future of energy is changing, and we’re changing with it. We’re already planning for how we’ll meet New Brunswickers’ energy needs over the next 25 years. One key element of that is seeing how renewable energy sources fit into our generation mix.

Today in New Brunswick, there’s 294 MW of clean wind energy available to the power grid. This energy is supplied by 113 wind turbines located at 3 wind farms in Lamèque, Kent Hills and near Bathurst. 

As we look ahead at the part wind energy could play in New Brunswick’s energy future, let’s see how it works.

Wind power is one of the simplest forms of energy and its plain to see how. You can even watch the spinning blades on top of the turbines while you are driving along the highway.

The blades on these wind turbines are similar to aircraft wings in their design, allowing the wind to move faster over one side of the blade to give it momentum. The blades catch the wind and spin, which then prompts a generator on top of the turbine to rotate, which then produces electricity.

Even though the blades may appear to move quite slowly from the road or ground, out at the tip of the blade, they can reach speeds of 300km/hour. That’s about the same speed as the race-winning car in the 1976 Indy 500. In other words- they move really, really fast.

Location is important for these wind farms- areas that naturally have higher wind speeds is the single most important factor in determining location. They also come equipped with sensors that turn the whole unit so it is always facing the wind.

Each of the 50 turbines at the Kent Hills wind farm, just outside Petitcodiac, has the capacity to produce 3 MW of electricity- 150 MW for the whole facility. It produces enough energy to power approximately 26,000 New Brunswick homes. 


Supply and demand

Wind facilities run differently from traditional generating stations on our grid. Traditional stations respond to the demand for electricity and use more or less fuel to balance out that demand. Wind farms can only make power when it is windy – regardless of the demand.

Because of the variable nature of wind, operators at these wind farms work to predict the wind speeds a few days in advance so they can help energy companies like NB Power to put this energy onto the grid.

NB Power takes these predictions and balances other sources of energy to make sure there’s a steady supply of electricity for customers at all times, while making sure we get the most out of our clean wind sources. 


Holy Ship! Undersea Cable Project ramps up with world-leading technology

November 17 2016, 13:13 PM

Holy Ship! Undersea Cable Project ramps up with world-leading technology

Meet Isaac Newton – a 12,500 tonne cable installation vessel from Europe that’s helping lay specialized undersea cables between New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. These cables will provide NB Power with the ability to sell additional electricity to PEI in the future, which may result in increased export sales.

After taking a trans-Atlantic journey from Rotterdam to Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island in October 2016, the vessel, with its crew of 75, began its task of laying two 16.5 kilometre, 180 MW cables, that weigh approximately 3,500 tonnes in total, underneath the cool waters of the Northumberland Strait. This work will continue for the next few weeks.

So, how does it work?

This hulking mass of yellow and grey steel is equipped with state of the art systems that allow it to simultaneously dig narrow trenches for the cables, as they unravel from either of the two cable feeders into the seabed below with minimal interruption of the bed and surrounding sea life. Once laid, the same equipment used to dig the trench will adjust the newly laid cable in the right position in the trench.

To help navigate this 460 foot ship along the right path, the crew uses a remotely-operated submarine, which glides along in front of the Newton, giving the crew a close up look at the installation work on the ocean floor.

This Isaac Newton is just the newest piece of machinery used in the complex puzzle of running 33 kilometers of cable under the sea. In May, Maritime Electric also brought in “The Starfish,” a marine excavator from Belgium to help break ground near Cape Tormentine in New Brunswick. Other specialized equipment and crews have also joined this project along the way, including mechanical marine dredges from Quebec City.

Interconnection Upgrade Project

These new undersea cables will complement and eventually replace aging cables that are nearing the end of their life and will offer enough new capacity to meet the Island’s growing energy needs now, and in the future. 60 km of new transmission line construction between Cape Tormentine and Memramcook and substation upgrades in Memramcook will also take place to complete the work on this project.

This project is a collaborative partnership between the Government of Canada and the Government of Prince Edward with Maritime Electric as the construction lead. The project is expected to be completed in May 2017.

 

 

 

The LaForge Dairy Farm – a Biogas success story

November 1 2016, 15:30 PM

The LaForge Dairy Farm – a Biogas success story

In the rural community of Saint-André and among fields of potatoes and other agricultural production, the LaForge Dairy Farm generates enough electricity to power 1000 to 1200 homes thanks to vision, innovation, a hard-working biogas digester and no small amount of organic waste supplied by their own farm and nearby agriculture industry.

The Laforge family had always envisioned diversifying the LaForge Dairy Farm, a 1,000 acre, 200 head dairy cow operation, by integrating a biogas system to generate electricity. They integrated the idea in 1995, having done research 14 years before implementing it.

In 2009, Jacques LaForge, along with his children Louise and Rock, began the process to set up and integrate a biogas system that would connect to NB Power’s grid. The first of its kind to operate in New Brunswick, the anaerobic digester system is a state of the art system that breaks down organic waste, creating a flammable gas that can generate electricity.

How does it work?

The manure from 200 cows, fries, potato skins, starch products, slaughterhouse waste, sludge from waste water treatment system -- it would otherwise all be disposed of-- but thanks to the LaForge anaerobic digester system, that waste is being put to good use- powering homes and business near the LaForge Farm.

Anaerobic digestion is a series of biological processes where microorganisms break down organic matter in the absence of oxygen where one of the end products is biogas. The anaerobic digester is comprised of a large holding tank containing a motorized mixer that churns sediment – cow manure and other organic inputs – and heats it to 40 degrees Celsius.  This mixing and heating generates carbon dioxide, methane and hydrogen sulfide. The carbon dioxide and methane are drawn out of the biodigester and fed into the biogas engine which is located nearby. The biogas engine is a specialized tool that produces electricity from the gas.

Heat is a by-product from the Co-Generator and is used to warm the farmhouse through an inlaid system of pipes under the cement floor. Any remaining sediment is moved to an on-site reservoir. Rich in potassium and nitrate, the sludge makes an excellent fertilizer which is used on nearby agricultural land. It is a sizeable and smart closed loop system.

NB Power’s Embedded Generation Program

Working in conjunction with NB Power, the LaForge biogas digester feeds 13 million KWh/year of electricity onto the local grid through NB Power’s Embedded Generation Program.

The purpose for NB Power, says JP Ouellette, is to generate electricity for local consumption.

“In doing so, you reduce losses on the system that occur from moving electricity down the lines. It has the positive effect of helping the local economy, too, “he says.  “Wind, solar, hydro, ocean, biogas, biomass, and landfill gas are all good fits for small-scale, renewable energy projects that could feed energy onto the grid.”

The benefits of generating electricity at the LaForge Dairy Farm are clear. Product by-waste avoids the landfill through ‘recycling’ agricultural and industrial organic waste as inputs to the digester, greenhouse gas emissions are reduced and a new stream of revenue has been added to the LaForge Farm, making the anaerobic digester embedded generation project at the LaForge farm a win for all.

“NB Power is open to these kinds of new ideas and is always looking for solutions to get implemented,” said Jacques Laforge.

                              

 

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