June 3 2015, 08:53 AM
It’s National Electricity Month!
Every June, members of the Canadian Electricity Association (CEA) host or take part in events across Canada to put a focus on all facets of the electricity system to help Canadians learn more about the value it can bring to their everyday lives.
We love the idea of opening our doors and getting into the community to talk about energy and the exciting ways we’re working to make New Brunswick’s energy future better. It’s also a great chance to hear any questions you have about energy in your life.
For National Electricity Month this year, we’re talking about clean, sustainable energy- both what it looks like now and what it could look like in the future.
Energy conservation plays big role in that, which is why we’re hosting our first Smart Habits event at the Fredericton Boyce Farmers Market in Fredericton on June 13. Our education partner, The Gaia Project will join us with their Mobile Energy Centre, a four-meter long trailer decked out with interactive learning tools such as a bicycle generator, a weather station and wind turbines. We’ll also have activities for kids and one of our electric vehicles on site.
We’re also supporting the E-mazing Race as it rolls through New Brunswick this month. It’s a fun and sustainable way for electric vehicle drivers to see Canada this summer. Any participating driver who charges up at an NB Power charging station will receive bonus points on their tour of New Brunswick.
On June 25, we’re opening up the doors at the Mactaquac Generating Station for the public to take one of our new tours of the Station to see how hydroelectricity works and learn more about the history and potential future for the station.
We’ll also be announcing a new program this month designed to help you save money and energy on your bills. Keep your eyes on our Twitter and Facebook sites for more on that. Make sure to follow or like us to keep up to date on all the latest updates, events and activities throughout National Electricity Month.
How are you going to celebrate National Electricity Month? Let us know in the comments below.
May 14 2015, 11:49 AM
The coming long weekend 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 long weekend.
Opening up the cottage
If you’re heading out to get your cottage ready for the summer ahead, make sure to check first to see if any power lines have fallen or become damaged during the winter months. If you see a downed or damaged line, or a tree leaning or fallen onto the line, keep a safe distance and call us at 1 800 663 6272 to disconnect the power and fix the issue.
- Never touch or approach trees in contact with power lines.
- Treat all downed lines as if they were energized. Stay at least 10m away (about the length of a bus) from them and anything they may be touching including puddles of water and fences.
- Never attempt to repair damaged power lines or remove tree limbs from power lines.
Lines are intact, but water got into your cottage?
Use this checklist:
- Check to see if your electrical panel has been damaged. If it’s damaged, you must get it replaced.
- If your water heater has been damaged by water, contact us and we will get a specialist out to assess.
- Call us for an emergency disconnect so the equipment can be replaced safely.
- You must have an electrical inspector from the Department of Public Safety’s Technical Inspection Services, or licensed electrician inspect your panel and wiring and tell you what needs to be done before you can be reconnected.
- The inspector or electrician will fill out necessary permits, complete work and once they've decided it is up to code they will attach a tag to your meter and call NB Power to reconnect you to the grid.
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. Here’s an example of what that looks like.
If you need to prune trees near a power line, call us first. If a tree is touching a line, don’t attempt to remove or prune it yourself.
Need a little extra length to use your power tools? Be sure to check your cords for cracks that may expose a wire- this can cause serious shock. If you’re heading out to the hardware store to buy a new cord for your backyard project, make sure it’s CSA approved for outdoor conditions.
Before starting any big construction projects, call us to let us know. We can come assess the area, de-energize wires, locate underground wires and help make your work site as safe as possible.
What else do you do to stay safe while working on the long weekend? Let us know in the comment section below.
May 14 2015, 07:00 AM
The white-silver kitchen timer beeps; break is over.
Jim Wilson and Gail Taylor monitor the washed-out grey sky for dark spotted lines or V-shaped rows through their binoculars. Jim and Gail are members of the Saint John Naturalists’ Club, a non-profit group that has been sending volunteers to count migrating birds at the Point Lepreau Generating Station for 20 years.
The club chose to build the observatory at Point Lepreau, because of how much further it reaches out to the water than other areas along the southern New Brunswick shore. NB Power has worked closely with the club over the past 20 years to make sure they have safe access to the observatory, which falls on the Station’s property.
“Our relationship with NB Power has been wonderful,” Jim says.
NB Power adheres to an Avian Protection Plan and works closely with the New Brunswick Department of Natural Resources to protect and conserve various species of migratory birds- from these sea birds to ospreys- around NB Power facilities during their nesting seasons.
More than just bird watching
When the club decided to build their observatory, information about the species and numbers of sea birds migrating along the southern New Brunswick shore was limited. Now they send the information they collect on these birds to Canadian Wildlife Service – a part of Environment Canada.
The collected data of the past 20 years indicates a 3-4% decline in the number of birds, Jim says. Heavy metals from industrial waste or even small oil spills in Northern Canada are hard to measure, but will have their toll on a bird population over time. A large spill before the New Brunswick coasts could stay for weeks in the bay with the way the water flows and could have devastating effects if it happens at the peak time of migration.
The Canadian Wildlife Services also supports the Saint John Naturalists with recording materials and funding to hire an experienced bird counter for six out of the eight weeks they are counting - starting at sunrise until 10 a.m.
The hired counter guides volunteers in identifying the birds by their body shapes, colours, flight patterns and cadence (the rhythm of how fast their wings move.) Typically the males show off their bright colours, says Jim, while the females have patchy brown feathers that act like a camouflage when they are incubating eggs.
Keeping up with the birds
In intervals of 15 min counting and 15 min break, Jim and Gail spend their morning in the toasty hut while the tide waves roar toward the rocky shore.
“Here, we go, some Scoters are coming,” says Gail and both binoculars turn to the right. First a group of 40 birds fly past the post out front that serves as a mark. Then 50 more, 60, 100. Within two minutes, the number reaches 450 birds. Jim and Gail count by tens to keep up with the constant flow of birds. Then the kitchen timer bleeps. When time is up, all birds that haven’t passed the post aren’t recorded, no matter if it’s a dozen or a hundred. For bird lovers like Gail and Jim, it’s hard to let those pass.
“You never know what’s going to fly by,” says Jim, always hoping for a King Eider, a highly arctic bird that rarely comes down to the New Brunswick shores.
Then he grabs his binoculars as another flock of birds fly by.
See more photos on NB Power's Flickr page
May 5 2015, 08:55 AM
Trees make our communities and properties beautiful. Planting trees can also add value to your property while increasing your curb appeal.
There are many different reasons to plant trees and shrubs on your property. Use this guide to make sure your trees are right for your needs.
Planting the right tree in the right place
Planting the right tree in the right place is not only important for making your property more beautiful, but it also helps prevent costly maintenance trimming, damage to your home and power disruptions
Did you know planting trees in the right places near your home can also improve your home’s energy efficiency? Planting evergreens to the north and west of your house can shield it from cold winter winds. In the summer, you can also reduce your cooling needs if you plant deciduous trees on the west and southwest sides. Deciduous trees help keep the hot sun out in the summer and let it in during colder winter months.
Where to plant
Before you consider where to plant, remember to look up, down and around to see if the area you want to put that new tree isn’t too close to any of NB Power’s lines or equipment. Here are some guidelines to help you figure out which tree or shrub you should plant in certain areas of your yard.
Site 1 The area directly beneath the power line and extending 4.5 metres in any direction is best suited for low, slow growing shrubs that will never exceed 4.5 metres in height. Nothing should be planted within 3 metres of poles, guy wires or other structures as this could affect maintenance work and inspections.
Site 2 Planting between 4.5 metres and 10.5 metres should be limited to small trees that will not grow higher than 9 metres or any of the shrubs you may plant in Site 1.
Site 3 Medium-sized trees may be planted 10.5 metres to 13.5 metres from the centre of the line. This includes trees that grow to a height of 21 metres, or small trees and shrubs planted in Sites 1 and 2.
Site 4 Large trees that may grow more than 21 metres tall should not be planted within 13.5 metres of the power line.
Here are a few varieties of shrubs and trees recommended by Landscape New Brunswick for planting in these areas:
Places to avoid
- Never plant any trees or climbing vines directly under power lines or any public utility lines or equipment. Consider smaller, slow-growing shrubs instead.
- Avoid planting next to buildings, sidewalks, roadways, street lights or signs.
- Ensure a minimum of 1.5 metre space between the edges of fully grown plants, shrubs or trees and low-level NB Power equipment (transformers, switch-mount cabinets, or tops of underground vaults) to ensure it can be serviced safely.
Make sure you call us at least 2 days before you dig. Someone from NB Power will visit your site and mark the location of any underground lines. These lines can cause serious injury if you encounter them.
Ask the experts
Consult with experts at your local nursery or the folks at Landscape New Brunswick to find out more about the tree or shrub you’re thinking about planting. They will know how large a plant or tree will reach at maturity and which type of plant is best suited for your needs.
April 22 2015, 09:36 AM
After the winter that just kept on giving, the signs of spring are welcome as we put away our snow shovels for another season. With temperatures starting to warm up across the province, this is also the time when many New Brunswickers are closely watching rising water levels in the rivers and in some cases, already dealing with flooding
Now that the spring freshet is upon us, NB Power has been hard at work with the New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization and other local partners monitoring ice conditions, snow pack, precipitation accumulation and weather patterns.
How it works
NB Power operates six run-of-river hydroelectric generating stations across New Brunswick- the largest being Mactaquac. Run of river facilities depend on the constant flow of the river. To generate electricity, the water flowing into the station is directed down and through turbines, providing the energy to spin the generators. Run-of-river stations have no ability to hold back water. All water that comes into the station must go out - especially during the spring freshet when water flows are higher than normal.
Hydro generating stations like Mactaquac contribute energy to our grid year-round, but sometimes during the spring thaw we have more water flowing into our stations than we’re able to generate. When all of the turbines are operating at full capacity in the station, operators open the spill gates to let out this excess water.
Ice jams on the other hand do hold back water and ice from moving freely downstream. Ice jams have been the cause of major flood events in the past here in New Brunswick, like those in Perth-Andover, Fredericton and St. George.
These jams happen when the ice in the river breaks up, sticks together and hits the bottom of the river. Like an iceberg in the ocean, what we see from land is only the tip of the ice jam in the river. Once the ice jams, it interrupts the natural flow of the river and the water behind it backs up, causing water levels to rise. Some areas of the river are more likely to experience ice jams than others.
Here are a few other factors that can contribute to ice jams:
- Two rivers joining, like the Tobique and Saint John rivers
- Elements like islands, low bridges and sharp bends can narrow or block the path for ice movement
- Thicker ice in the river
- Shallow areas of river
Severe flooding happens when those factors combine with the following:
- Speed and volume of river flow
- Strength of ice cover
- Snow depth
- How quickly the temperatures rise
It is so important for people to stay away from the water and ice near these hydro stations in the spring. Ice may appear to be solid, but is inconsistent due to changing water flows below. Calm water on the river below a hydro station can quickly turn into rapids with a strong undertow.
Watch for warning signs, boom, buoys and barriers around NB Power hydro stations.
Have an idea for a future blog post? Let us know in the comments section below or email us.