July 29 2015, 11:18 AM
A few weeks ago, we opened the doors on our new visitors’ centre at the Mactaquac Generating Station. The new centre helps us tell the story of the Station, the river and the people who live along the water. When you walk into the new centre, you’ll find big, bright wall panels full of pictures, graphics and maps that help tell these stories.
The story so far
Long before we built the station, the Maliseet people lived along the banks of the Saint John River. They call it the Wolastoq - the beautiful and bountiful river. It was their source of food, transportation and a meeting place.
We worked closely with the Kingsclear First Nation to translate their story into Maliseet. We’re honoured to help preserve a part of their culture and history through this project, especially since there are only about 650 Maliseet speakers alive today.
After the Second World War, the demand for electricity quickly grew in New Brunswick. This meant we had to build another source of electricity- The Mactaquac Generating Station.
The construction of the new Station brought thousands of workers to the area. It also saw the loss and birth of several communities near the river. Areas that came out of the Station’s construction were the The Town of Nackawic, the Mactaquac Provincial Park and Kings Landing Historical Settlement. These are all favorite spots for tourists and New Brunswickers to visit.
A few years ago, we discovered problems with concrete expansion in the spillways and powerhouse. This problem is called Alkali-Aggregate Reaction (AAR).
NB Power is now looking at three options for the future of the dam: Repower, Retain the head pond and river restoration. We are conducting several studies to find out how the options might impact New Brunswickers and the environment. We will choose a path forward for the station in 2016.
Have you seen the new centre yet?
Our bilingual tour guides invite everyone to the station every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Labour Day. Tours are available without an appointment and group bookings can be made by calling 462-3886. All you need to bring are closed-toe shoes and a curious mind. The tours aren’t recommended for children under 6 years.
July 13 2015, 08:35 AM
Air sealing is one of the most important upgrades you can make in your home. It’s also inexpensive and easy to do. With a little effort and minimal cost you can do these air sealing upgrades yourself. Following these steps to air seal your home can help lower your heating bills by up to 20% and help make your home more comfortable and less drafty this winter.
Where to check
Air sealing can be done easily and quickly in several areas of the home including electrical entrances, windows, doors, light fixtures, light switches, plugs, baseboards, doors and hatches, and floor joists. Older homes (built before 1970) in particular have many penetrations to the outside, causing drafts and allowing heat to escape.
An easy way to find leaks is to hold a feather or incense stick next to any of the areas listed above. If it’s moving, that means you’ve got an air leak. If proper air sealing has not been done that means cold air can get in and warm air can get out.
Fix the leaks
You’ll need either caulk or spray foam to seal your leaks. Generally, any gaps and spaces less than 3-4cm can be sealed with caulking and anything larger should be sealed with spray foam.
To fix the leak with caulking, just run your caulk gun around the edge of the window to seal it off completely. Caulk is really difficult to get off once dried, so it’s best to apply painters tape to both sides of the joint to help keep things clean. You should also wear gloves when applying caulk to seal your leaks.
Light switches and outlets are another source of air leakage. It’s easy to see and feel the cool air coming in. Inexpensive foam insulators can fix these air leaks easily and quickly. All you need to do is unscrew the switch covers then fit in a foam gasket. Screw the covers back on and you’re all set. If you have outlets on external walls, plug covers can also help keep air from coming in through the outlet itself.
Don’t forget the door
Make it a seasonal chore to check your doors. You should replace weather-stripping if it is dried out, cracked, ripped, compressed or missing, or if it bends at all. Check all the sides of the door and the door sweep underneath.
Make sure the door closes snugly and that there are no gaps along the sides, top of the door or in the space between the threshold and the door bottom. Your weather-stripping ensures a tight seal where the frames meet. It is also inexpensive to replace and helps keep warm air in during the winter, and vice versa in the summer.
Don’t forget that as you make your home more airtight, you will also need to ensure your home is properly ventilated and humidity levels are controlled to prevent moisture and mold problems. Do you have a ventilation system? A heat recovery ventilator will be essential to keeping your home properly ventilated if you’re successful in air sealing.
If you know your home is in need of major air sealing and you want to ensure a thorough and professional job in locating and sealing, your best option may be to call in a professional. Look under Insulation Contractors in your local yellow pages to find a contractor who will work with you to have all sources of leaks and drafts in your home identified and thoroughly sealed.
NB Power is also offering the Home Insulation Energy Savings Program for homeowners to help with insulation and air sealing.
June 23 2015, 08:52 AM
We’re excited to let you in on a little secret- we’ve got a new website, and we think it’s pretty great. Our team here at NB Power has been working hard over the last few months to bring this new site to life.
The new nbpower.com will give you quicker and easier access to the information you want. This includes better outage viewing and reporting, an improved search feature and a new self-serve option to let you pay your bills when it’s convenient for you. The new site is better optimized for mobile devices too, making it easier for you to do what you need to, even when you’re on the go.
You’ll also find our improved “Products and Services” and “Smart Habits” sections right on our homepage. Here, you’ll find information on new products, services, programs and rebates we will offer to help you reduce your energy consumption. In our Smart Habits section you’ll also find our new appliance calculator that will help you see how much energy each device in your home uses so you can better manage your energy use and save money on your bills.
Check out this video for a quick walk-through of the new site before you head over and start exploring.
As with any new site, we will be continuing to make enhancements and add new features going forward, so stay tuned for those. In the meantime, if there’s anything you’d like to see on our new website that isn’t there, let us know in the comment section below or by email.
June 10 2015, 16:31 PM
NB Power has a great relationship with local, New Brunswick-based businesses, who help us keep power lines and infrastructure free from vegetation that could potentially cause power outages when severe weather events happen. One of our contractors, Jeremy How of Asplundh Tree Expert Co.tells us what it’s like to be in the vegetation management business.
What is a tree trimmer?
A tree trimmer would be anyone who works in the Arboriculture business, either commercial or private.
What made you want to work in the tree-trimming business?
Having a back ground in rock climbing I wasn't afraid of heights. I also grew up working part time in the woods on my family property. So, when a job posting came up for a tree climber trimmer, I applied and got it.
How long have you been in the tree-trimming business?
I have been in the industry for 10 years.
What are the main responsibilities of your current position?
The main responsibilities of my current job as manager of Asplundh New Brunswick is bidding and managing contracts, managing our training and safety programs, equipment fleet manager and hiring new employees.
What else does your job involve?
Other duties of my job include getting back into a bucket truck or a tree to work along with the crews when required.
Please describe a typical work day for you.
A typical work day for me begins at 6 a.m. when I drive into our shop on Hanwell Road, in Fredericton. I run through the game plan for the crews in my head to make sure everything will run smoothly.
When I arrive at work, I make sure all the crews leave the yard in a timely manner. After everyone leaves the yard, I have a quick talk with my Project Foreman, who is in charge of direct supervision of the crews. I usually give the crews a couple hours before I visit individual sites to check safety, production and quality.
The afternoons are usually reserved for administrative work and or meetings with NB Power. My day ends usually at 5.30 p.m. although oftentimes, I receive evening phone calls from employees or customers.
What do you find most rewarding about your job?
What’s most rewarding for me is to watch our company grow in New Brunswick. Before I moved back to Fredericton from Halifax, Asplundh had never worked here. Three other employees and I worked on our first contract six years ago. Now we have approximately 50 employees working in New Brunswick.
What keeps you going?
What keeps me going is the fact that so many employees and indirectly their family's rely on the job we provide for them. If I didn't do my job of managing their contracts correctly, they may not have a job the next time we submit a bid for work.
Have you been a part of any of NB Power’s restoration efforts after a major storm?
I have been part of many storm restoration efforts, basically after every major storm we’ve had in the last five years. Our company makes every effort to provide all requested resources during storms. It's very rewarding to watch customers regain their power.
Although our employees love the chance to work the long hours we put in during storms to help out, when the storm is over, it’s very nice coming home and spending time with our families. I feel we have a good relationship with NB Power. They are always open to hear my concerns likewise I am to theirs.
What do you think are the most important things homeowners need to know about tree trimming and their property?
It's very important that homes owners are given notice before we go into their back yards to trim their trees. In my experience if the home owner has a chance to express their concerns and if we explain to them why we have to trim their trees the experience goes much smoothly.
A lot of the time the homeowners want to speak to an NB Power employee rather than a contractor. Also homeowners need to be aware of the dangers of trimming trees around power lines themselves. Most do but we still encounter people who know the danger but do not accept the risks.
Read more about NB Power’s tree maintenance program and the ways contractors like Jeremy prune trees around power lines here.
June 5 2015, 10:29 AM
It has been a long, cold winter. But with trees budding and flowers blooming, it’s time to get your home energy ready for the summer ahead. Taking these small steps can help you reduce your energy consumption during the warmer months, without sacrificing on comfort.
Shut off baseboard heaters
Did you know that heating typically accounts for 50% of an average 3-4 person family’s annual energy bill? Imagine the savings after winter is gone! Shut off your baseboard heaters at the breaker to keep them from kicking in during the summer. Once they’re shut off you can take this opportunity to clean your baseboard heaters. If you vacuum these once a year, it can help you get better air circulation during the cooler months.
Tip: The fins inside your heaters are very delicate, and can bend with even the slightest pressure. So take care when vacuuming as bent fins could also hinder your air circulation.
Turn off HRVAs it gets nicer outside, you may want to open your windows. When windows are open,you are ventilating your home for free, so take the opportunity to shut off your Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV.)
Tip: Doing this after you turn your baseboard heaters are off at the breaker will prevent cool outside breezes from triggering your heaters to turn on.
Clean air filters
Take advantage of having your HRV shut off to make sure it’s working in tip-top shape. Check the manufacturer’s manual for suggested maintenance or get it checked by a certified professional. This maintenance will include cleaning or replacing e the air filters, and verifying that the outside intake and exhaust vents are free of debris. If you have a central heating system it also has filters to clean or change. When these filters become clogged with dirt, the motor works harder, uses more energy and can lead to premature failure of the motor.
Use a clothesline
Add a springy breeze to your clothes by using a clothesline instead of your dryer. This will also help you save on your energy use.
Brighten up your backyard
Use LED lighting products to brighten up your outdoor spaces this summer. Did you know LED’s use up to 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs? You can find even more savings by adding timers or motion sensors to your outdoor lights so they’re only running when you need them.
How do you get your home ready for the summer? Share your tips and tricks with us in the comment section below.