High flying work aims to keep migratory birds safe
December 23 2019, 10:06 AM
It’s not every day you find yourself hovering hundreds of feet in the air, strapped to the side of a helicopter.
But for a group of NB Power powerline technicians, this has been part of their job for the past two weeks.
The task? Installing two types of bird diverters on 25 km of transmission lines stretching from Memramcook to Sackville, New Brunswick. The first diverter is yellow and coiled, and the technicians twist it onto 138 kV lines. The second type looks more like a small black and yellow tent, and it gets snapped onto the highest point on the larger 345 kV lines.
When migratory birds, like ospreys are flying near powerlines, these diverters help keep them safe by helping them see the powerlines easier. By installing these at the highest point, we can divert the birds higher up so they fly over these much taller lines.
It’s not an easy job. But the team are highly skilled and hyper focused on the task at hand. They’re harnessed in to keep them safe while attaching the diverters to the lines.
“It takes a bit of getting used to – especially the first five or 10 minutes … but after that you just go about your business,” says transmission powerline technician, Shawn MacKinnon.
The pilot uses a steady hand to keep the helicopter as still as possible for both the pilot and the powerline technician’s safety. The talent and precision of the pilot makes a big difference in how well the work goes, and in this case, the NB Power crew gave two thumbs up for Mike Maurice of Vortex Helicopters who was at the stick.
“One of the biggest surprises was the size of the skid we stand on. It is not much bigger than the sideboard you would find on a pick-up truck,” MacKinnon said. “But you get use to it. We were lucky in that it’s usually very windy on the Tantramar marshes, but not when we were there. And the downdraft from the rotors wasn’t bad at all. It couldn’t have gone much better.”
Want to see what this work looks like from the sky? Check out the video below.
Last week the team wrapped up installing 3,200 of these diverters in addition to inspecting and maintaining 28 transmission towers. Doing this work by air instead of land minimizes the impact to these wetland areas, while allowing the team to work quickly along the lines to install the diverters.
Other line technicians who worked on the project were Hunter Smith, Grant Donnelly and Jason McKellar. Supervisor Pat Daigle was pleased with the work and noted the crews saw bald eagles, golden eagles and osprey when they were on the job.
NB owners see bright future for electric vehicles
October 22 2019, 10:19 AM
Betty and Veronica are not rivals in the Burgess household.
Instead, they’re the peppy Chevrolet Bolt and Volt that take Bob and Darwin Burgess wherever they need to go.
Since taking the plunge and purchasing the first Chevrolet Volt in New Brunswick in 2012, you’d be hard pressed to find bigger cheerleaders for owning an EV.
After realizing they had only spent $1000 in gas after five years of driving their Volt, they doubled down their investment and brought their fully electric Bolt home in 2018.
These two enthusiasts take every opportunity to promote the benefits of electric vehicles and charging stations to other drivers as well as to business operators like car rentals, hotels and restaurants. Electric vehicles can play an important role in building a more sustainable energy future for New Brunswick- and passionate owners like Bob and Darwin are helping to lead that charge.
But they’re not alone.
Ellen Horsman, gets stopped a lot while charging up her Nissan Leaf at charging stations. When asked about her EV, her face lights up and her passion shines through as she talks about all the cool features her car offers, and shares her advice for picking the right car.
After 20 years driving her Saturn, the retired teacher from Moncton needed a new vehicle. That’s when her son came to her rescue with the gift of a fully electric Nissan Leaf.
“I had an interest in getting an electric vehicle (EV) and my son had good things to say about his experience. My environmental conscience told me it would be the right choice,” says Ellen.
She hopes by sharing her experience with others, she will encourage potential buyers to look at the total life cycle costs of EV ownership.
Fully electric cars don’t require oil changes, transmissions or exhaust systems. The average driver can save hundreds of dollars per year just on maintenance. And the fuel savings? The Burgess’ typical daily commute is about 50Km round trip. And it only costs them about $1 per day.
It’s those kinds of savings that drove Maurice Brun to consider making the switch to an EV six years ago to help him manage costs in his retirement. He spent 3 years researching how an electric vehicle (EV) operates and has now been a very happy owner of a Nissan Leaf for 3 years.
“If I had known more about EVs long ago this would have been such an easy decision.”
Maurice would never go back to a gas-powered vehicle because the savings are too good. He says his car needs little service and there is no downside now that charging stations are popping up everywhere.
“I see a bright future for electric vehicles,” says Maurice. Prices are coming down and the driving range keeps going up. They’re quiet, handle well, and are very cheap to operate. What’s not to like?”
Read more from these New Brunswick EV enthusiasts here.
Are you ready for an EV? You can receive between $2,500 and $5,000 incentive from the federal government.
National Lineworker Appreciation Day
July 10 2019, 11:29 AM
July 10th is the anniversary of the death of Henry Miller, lineworker and founding president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). He died on the job from electrocution.
To honour the important work linemen like Henry do every day across Canada, The Canadian Electricity Association is proposing that July 10 become National Lineworker Appreciation Day.
Lineworkers are the people who make sure Canadians have the power they need. But their jobs are not easy. The Globe and Mail ranked lineworkers as having one of the 10 riskiest jobs in Canada in 2019.
Ross Galbraith, Business Manager of IBEW Local 37 in New Brunswick, said this day commemorates Henry’s death and recognizes lineworkers who continue to do dangerous work.
“It is important to recognize the work that they do to provide safe and reliable power. They do this not only during a blue sky day but also during times of significant bad weather events.”
Nicole Poirier, NB Power’s Executive Director of Customer Services, said this day also recognizes the teams that support our lineworkers. Lineworkers are supported everyday by employees working in all areas of the company, such as the warehouse, engineering, dispatch, customer service, IT and accounting. It really takes the entire team working together to make it all happen.
Line work is not for everyone. It takes a special person to spend so much time away from their loved ones and perform such a dangerous job. We appreciate and thank all our lineworkers for their dedication to their communities.
5 tips for a successful summer renovation
June 28 2019, 14:14 PM
Summer can be the perfect time for home renovations and energy efficiency should be top of mind. Our Total Home Energy Savings Program can help. Big or small- a renovation can make a big impact on the look, comfort and even value of your home. But where should you start? We’ve asked our in-house building expert, Lauren Lipka for his top tips to help make your renovation a success.
Start with a plan
Sounds simple- but a little bit of planning can go a long way to making your renovation a success. Write down your goals, what your needs are and include a wish list or Pinterest inspiration board. That all-white kitchen, though stunning, might not be the right fit if you like to cook big meals or have young kids.
From his years of building experience with the Canadian Home Builders Association, Lauren says that your renovation goals should reflect how you live day-to-day. You’ll want to factor in things like how people move through, and use the space you’re renovating. You’ll want to make sure your goals and plan fit into your budget.
Find your perfect contractors
Whether it’s a big or small renovation, a reputable contractor can help make sure the job is done right; under your budget and help you navigate and get any needed permits. Home renovations can come with lots of surprises. A reputable contractor can help you make the best calls when an unexpected expense or issue pops up mid-reno. They also know the ins and outs of local and National building codes and can ensure your renovation is done the right way to help keep you safe. Great contractors have a track record of satisfied customers and can provide you with customer references upon request. We encourage customers to obtain three quotes and references prior to selecting a contractor.
Make Your Home Energy Efficient
Want a renovation that puts money back in your pocket? Consider how you can build efficiency into your plan. Upgrading appliances? Look for the ENERGY STAR® certified label. Redoing your kitchen? Opt for LED lighting to brighten up your cooking space.
If you’re doing a major remodel, Lauren recommends having a certified Energy Advisor come and do an evaluation of your home through the Total Home Energy Savings Program. These evaluations show you where heat or cool air are leaking from your home. Energy Advisors will recommend upgrades that help improve your home’s envelope to keep your heating or cooling inside where it belongs. This keeps you and your family more comfortable year round. Plus, when you’re not heating the outdoors, it’s good for your wallet too. Check out this video to see what else is involved in an energy evaluation.
Make Your Home Healthier
What better outcome from a renovation than to have a healthy, comfortable home for you and your family? This can be of even bigger benefit if someone in your home suffers from allergies, asthma or other health conditions. Consider ENERGY STAR certified air exchangers, dehumidifiers or heat pumps when doing your renovation. They’ll not only make the air in your home cleaner, but they’ll help save you money in the long run too.
Did you know there are lots of products on the market that are sustainably made or environmentally friendly? From lumber to flooring, there are many ways you can green up your renovation. Cork flooring is one flooring option that’s a sustainable choice. Consider natural stone for counter tops for a sleek, yet environmentally friendly option. Roof shingles made from recycled plastic, sustainably certified lumber and composite beams are all great options as well. Check with your contractor or local renovation store for the best green options near you.
What is your biggest renovation lesson? Tell us about it in the comments below!
Building a smarter grid
June 17 2019, 11:48 AM
Building a smarter grid
As the energy industry continues to transform and diversify, New Brunswickers will have more choices on how they use energy to power their lives. Customer expectations are changing. To keep pace, we are changing too.
Today, we are building the power grid we need tomorrow - a modern digital energy network that will:
- give New Brunswickers more options for saving money, time and electricity
- communicate with us so we can respond to outages more quickly
- connect with renewable energy sources
The electricity grid is a complex system with one important job: to deliver safe, reliable electricity from power plants across New Brunswick to our customers’ homes and businesses. A modern grid is smarter, cleaner, more resilient and efficient.
What a smarter grid means for you
In the future, you may want to do more than use electricity. You may want to produce it and save it for later, like during a power outage. Or maybe you want it to play a different role in your life, not only at home but on the road.
You’ll have more choices and opportunities in the future for how you use energy.
Smart meters and the grid
Smart meters are one step on the journey to a smarter grid. A smart meter looks similar to our current meter. What makes it different is that it allows two-way communication, over a secure network, giving New Brunswickers the information they need to see and manage their energy use.
Picture this- you’re sitting at home catching up on your favorite TV show, and a lost signal message pops up on your screen. In many cases, before you even have a chance to grab your phone and call your provider, your favorite show is back up and running.
When you lose signal, your cable box sends a signal to your service provider to let them know about the issue. With current technologies, they can send a signal back to your box to try to diagnose the problem. Smart meters enable a similar two-way communication.
Utilities with this feature are seeing improved reliability and restoration speed. Their customers appreciate the added convenience.
Let’s look at some of the other benefits of smart meters:
- Knowledge is power
Your online access to detailed energy information will help you make informed usage decisions.
- Save with high bill alerts
You will be able to set up alerts to let you know when your energy use goes up and get tips on how to lower it so you can stay on budget.
- Quicker service
Smart meters enable us to remotely connect and reconnect service to your home so you get quicker service at a time that’s convenient for you.
- Faster power restoration
In many cases, smart meters will send notices to NB Power when the power is out. This allows us to start the restoration as quickly as possible so we can get the power back on faster.
- Greener operations
NB Power can do more work remotely and that means fewer visits and lower carbon emissions.
Meet Sue and Martin Brannon
Here’s a real life example of a couple who are seeing first-hand the benefits of smart meters.
Sue and Martin Brannon were born and raised in New Brunswick, but now share their time between New Brunswick and Florida. They have a smart meter in their home in Florida, which allows them to check their usage, set up bill alerts and receive notices if their power goes out from their home right here in New Brunswick.
Learn more about smart meters.