September 17 2021, 13:21 PM
The third Friday of September is recognized as National Tradesperson Day to celebrate the important contributions of skilled trades workers across the country.
From our carpenters to our millwrights, and our electricians to our welders, skilled trades play a key role in providing safe and reliable energy to New Brunswickers.
We’d like to introduce you to Chad Crawford, a Mechanical Maintainer on the NB Power team.
Born and raised in the Moncton area, Chad says he was a very hands-on child, always taking things apart and trying to rebuild them.
His high school shop teacher recognized his passion and skill, recommending the Industrial Mechanic program at the New Brunswick Community College (NBCC) after graduation. Chad completed the program and worked his way through apprenticeships and testing to achieve his Red Seal, referred to by many as his ticket.
Staying in his home province was always a goal, so Chad was excited to accept a full-time position at the Coleson Cove Generating Station in 2015.
As the Lead Hand for the Unit 2 turbine system, Chad is responsible for repairs and maintenance on one of the three 350 megawatt units located just outside of Saint John.
“The team at Coleson Cove is fantastic,” Chad says. “I like that every day there’s a new challenge – and I never back away from an opportunity to learn more. The first couple of years in this role were about learning the systems in the plant and now I’m able to specialize my skills a bit.”
As the father of two young children, Chad values NB Power’s strong workplace safety culture.
“Safety at NB Power job sites is unlike anything else I’ve seen,” he said. “We have the tools, resources and knowledge to keep everyone safe – it’s up to each of us to own our personal safety and look out for one another. I feel confident knowing that if I encounter a safety issue, it will be fixed before anyone is in harm’s way. That gives me peace of mind that I’ll make it home each day to my wife and kids.”
Chad is proud to represent skilled trades at NB Power and suggests that more young people explore a career in the trades.
“I’ve always said if you get a trade, it stays with you your whole life,” he said. “There is tremendous earning potential and so many opportunities to do meaningful and challenging work right here in New Brunswick. The need for skilled tradespeople keeps growing. I highly encourage students to learn more about the great programs offered at NBCC. You might just end up in your dream job.”
July 9 2021, 10:00 AM
Did you know that July 10 is National Lineworker Appreciation Day? In 2019, utilities and organizations across Canada united in celebration for the first-ever Lineworker Appreciation Day.
Lineworkers are heroes in our books. These dedicated men and women are part of communities in every corner of New Brunswick. They work hard to keep customers connected, often facing challenging conditions and safety hazards. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, they’ve continued to provide safe and reliable service for our customers.
To celebrate National Lineworker Appreciation Day, we’d like to introduce you to Tyler Messer, an apprentice lineworker in the St. Stephen area.
Tyler grew up a proud “country boy” in the village of McAdam. As a high school student, he wasn’t sure what type of career he’d like to pursue. That all changed in 2014, when post-tropical storm Arthur battered the Maritimes and caused about 150,000 customers to lose power in New Brunswick – including his community.
“I always knew that I wanted a hands-on job that allowed me to work outside,” Tyler said. “I saw lineworkers in my town cleaning up from the storm and rebuilding powerlines, I thought – wow, I would love to do that.”
Tyler’s final semester of high school included a co-op placement with NB Power at the St. Stephen District Office. He spent one day per week in the field with a crew, getting to see first-hand what the job was all about. It didn’t take long for him to decide that he wanted to be a lineworker, too.
After graduating from McAdam High School, he enrolled in the New Brunswick Community College (NBCC) Powerline Technician program. This education involves both classroom and on-the-job training prior to graduation, and a phased block approach leading to a Red Seal designation.
Tyler was hired by NB Power as an apprentice in 2020, around the time the pandemic began. Once it was safe to do so, he did his orientation and started working with the St. Stephen team. For the past year, Tyler has been working alongside senior, experienced lineworkers. Throughout his education and work experience, safety has always been the main focus.
“The work itself is complex and very physical,” said Tyler. “It requires teamwork, problem-solving and thinking outside the box. But safety is by far the most important factor. Nothing matters than keeping everyone safe – our customers, co-workers and myself.”
Tyler says the variety of what the job entails makes every day an adventure. Helping with large-scale outages and storm response is especially rewarding.
“This is not a 9-5 job. You need to able to put your life on pause to help others,” he said. “Driving on back roads at 2 AM in winter conditions, looking out for moose and bears is a whole other experience. We never know what we’re going to be up against, but that’s what makes it so rewarding. The pride you feel when you get a customer’s power back on, it’s a rush!”
Tyler is currently working to obtain enough hours for his third block, which will involve more classroom training and testing, followed by his application for a Red Seal Certificate. He attributes the success of his first year at NB Power to his mentors and colleagues.
“The folks I get to work with are out of this world,” said Tyler. “They have been so welcoming and helpful and are always willing to answer my questions and coach me. They’re instilling in me the habits and values to have a long and safe career. Being such a close-knit group, they’re also very supportive beyond work matters, with advice on things like buying my first house. It’s a good feeling knowing they’ve got my back and are rooting for me to succeed.”
The kindness and appreciation customers show Tyler and his team inspire him to be the best he can be.
“I love chatting with people when we’re working around their home or business. Understanding the impact our work can have on their lives is what keeps me going. The icing on the cake is seeing my little niece jump up and down with pride to see ‘Uncle Tyler’ in the big truck,” he said. “There’s no better feeling than driving through my hometown, knowing I’m there to help my friends and neighbours.”
May 19 2021, 10:00 AM
For many New Brunswickers, the Victoria Day weekend means it’s time to enjoy the outdoors and finally tackle the long checklist of things to do around the house, yard or cottage. Whether you are just headed out to do a little work in the garden or are off to take on more ambitious outdoor projects, it’s important to keep safety top of mind. Most of us think that we know enough about electricity to stay safe. After all, we are surrounded by it and use it everyday. However, each year people are injured and millions of dollars in property damage are caused by electrical hazards that could have been avoided.
This weekend, follow the tips below to help protect you, your family and your home from harm;
Working around power lines:
Look up! Check the surrounding area to ensure that you will not accidentally come in contact with overhead power lines. Remember minimum safe distances of approach:
- Up to 750 volts - 0.9 metres (3 feet)
- 750 to 100 kilovolts - 3.6 metres (12 feet)
- 101 to 250 kv - 5.2 metres (17 feet)
- 251 to 345 kv - 6.1 metres (20 feet)
Look down! Some power lines are buried as little as one foot underground. Don't take a chance. Be sure you know where power lines are located before digging to install a fence, plant a tree or dig holes.
To ensure you have all the information you need before starting your project, call NB Power at 1 800 663-6272. We can:
- Mark underground lines
- De-energize and insulate overhead lines
- Raise overhead lines
- Provide warning signs for hazardous areas
Planning on using some tools this weekend? Make sure you do it safely.
- If you haven’t used your electric tools all winter, inspect them for damage to cords, plugs and wiring. If required, take the tool to a qualified professional for repair.
- Protect yourself from injury. Turn the electric tool off, unplug it and put it in the “lock” position when carrying or connecting attachments such as mower baskets or saw blades.
- When working outdoors, use only weather-resistant heavy gauge extension cords marked “for outdoor use.” These weather resistant cords have added safeguards designed to withstand the outdoor environment.
- Never leave electric tools unattended where children or other unqualified adults can misuse them.
NB Power always advises leaving tree trimming to the professionals, particularly when the tree and its limbs are anywhere near a power line.
But if you do plan to do some trimming, here are some safety reminders:
- Make sure your ladder or pole doesn’t come within the safe minimum distance to a power line – it doesn’t even have to touch the line, if electrical arcing occurs, you could still be in danger.
- Use fiberglass ladders outdoors; metal or wooden ladders can conduct electricity.
- Do not climb with tools in your hands and be sure to wear safety equipment at all times.
- Do not trim trees in dangerous weather conditions.
Be smart, be safe, stay out of danger!
March 29 2021, 10:00 AM
We know how difficult it can be when your power is out. That’s why we continue to look at ways to improve our processes so we can be there for our customers when they need us the most.
NB Power is responsible for making sure customers have the power they need when they need it, in good weather and bad. We take this responsibility very seriously. With more than 20,000 km of distribution lines and close to 7,000 km of transmission lines, our electricity infrastructure covers a vast expanse of terrain.
Our province and our infrastructure is increasingly subject to severe weather brought on by climate change. Hurricanes, ice storms and two of the worst floods in the past 50 years are some of the extreme weather events that New Brunswick has faced in the past decade. As storms become more intense and cause major disruptions in many parts of the province, NB Power’s storm preparedness effort, conducted in collaboration with partners, has taken on greater significance and urgency.
Every year, we collaborate with the province’s Emergency Measures Organization, the Canadian Red Cross, and other partners, to emphasize the importance of being ready for storms for New Brunswickers. This approach is considered a best practice and aligns with provincial and federal agencies who adopted the integrated emergency response model.
We also have an Emergency Response Plan in place. This plan helps to ensure consistent preparedness, response, communications, and recovery practices across our entire organization. This approach in any emergency response is effective, efficient and ensures the safety of customers, employees, contractors, and the public.
Our Emergency Planning Management team is centralized for proactive decision-making and strategic planning ahead of, and during, an event. For each event, we set up local centres in affected regions to monitor outages, realign crews and reduce restoration wait times for customers.
Vegetation management is also an essential part of reliability efforts: pruning trees, removing brush, and clearing power lines help keep them free to deliver safe, reliable electricity. In the last fiscal year, we invested $5.8 million in inspecting and clearing over 1,200 km of distribution lines. We invested a further $4.4 million inspecting over 2,300 km of transmission right of ways and subsequently treating approximately 1,400 kms of those right of ways. In addition, we invested over $62 million in our transmission rebuild program, completing several life extension and storm hardening projects.
Our annual maintenance program also helps identify and respond to issues. 20 per cent of our utility poles are inspected annually, as part of a five-year cycle. A maintenance plan is established for aging poles, and our field crews perform the work to maintain the safe operation of our electrical grid. Every spring a system review of power quality is performed to establish short and long-term goals for our power supply equipment. From the reviews, NB Power then establishes a detailed plan for the following year.
These are just some of the things we do to provide electricity safely, in good weather and bad, for all New Brunswickers.
March 22 2021, 09:15 AM
The best part of Geoff Cowan’s job is getting to spend time outside in his community.
Geoff is a Lead Meter Reader for the Moncton area. He leads a team of employees who take readings of energy consumption on meters as well as installing new meters and doing service and inspections.
The Riverview native joined the NB Power team in 2005 after completing a Bachelor of Business Administration at UNB. After marrying his college sweetheart, Geoff was excited to start a career that included lots of fresh air and opportunities to learn and grow.
Within urban centres in the province, most residential meters are read with radio frequency devices, which involves an employee traveling through neighbourhoods with a device to gather data from the street. When you get to the suburbs and more rural locations in New Brunswick, we manually read meters up close.
What might sound like a simple task can be complicated by things like locked gates, untethered dogs or construction projects that make it difficult or impossible to get to the meter.
NB Power has started taking inventory of access to residential and business meters and will be working with customers to remove barriers to easy access. This will improve safety and bill accuracy and support routine maintenance and inspections of equipment.
One of the issues Geoff and his team encounter is propane tanks too close to meters. It’s a little-known fact that national safety standards require at least 10 feet between electrical meters and fuel sources.
But Geoff says the biggest challenge for meter readers happens in our long New Brunswick winters.
“It’s not uncommon for our staff to spend hours of their day wading through deep snow to get to meters,” says Geoff. “It’s a really intense workout plus, it’s like walking around blindfolded. You can’t see the hazards lurking under the snow and ice. We have to be very careful not to get injured in the field.”
Geoff says that he always goes out of his way to thank customers who take the time to clear snow and ice to make it safer for him to get to the meter.
“It’s a small gesture that sends a big message,” said Geoff. “I find that many customers haven’t considered doing it and once they do remove the snow and see how much it can help us, they’re happy to help!”
To learn how to make sure your meter is safe and accessible, visit our Meter Safety page.