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NB Power – an emission reductions leader - By Gaëtan Thomas

April 22 2019, 10:25 AM

NB Power – an emission reductions leader - By Gaetan Thomas

As a runner, I know how hard it is to train for a race. Imagine training for a marathon for many years. You work out, you eat the right foods, and you show unbridled commitment. You plan ahead and do everything right. 

Now imagine it’s the day of the race and you can almost see the finish line in sight. And then someone decides to move the line – they move the finish line further down the road. 

In a sense, that is how NB Power feels about the carbon tax. Let me explain … 

In 2015, Canada and 173 other nations agreed to the Paris Accord at the United Nations Climate Change Conference. The goal?  A 30 per cent reduction of 2005 greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) levels by 2030.

By 2017, Canada had only reduced its emissions by four per cent over 2005 levels, while New Brunswick had reduced its emissions by 24 per cent.

At NB Power, our team is proud that we are doing our part to help New Brunswick and Canada meet its targets.

By 2017, NB Power had already achieved more than twice the historic goal that was agreed by those nations in Paris. We did this by achieving an outstanding 68 per cent reduction over 2005 levels.

We didn’t achieve these outstanding results by luck. Our results came about as a result of hard work and prudent investments made on behalf of New Brunswick families and businesses.

Our shareholder, the Province of New Brunswick, has also set one of the most aggressive and progressive renewable portfolio standards in the country. This standard states that by 2020 NB Power must serve at least 40 per cent of its energy requirements from renewable sources.

NB Power is on track to meet this ambitious target.

This year, we will surpass the renewable target with approximately 41 per cent renewable production and 77 per cent carbon-free production serving New Brunswick families and businesses.

In order to achieve these results, we decommissioned fossil-fuel-fired generators. We invested significantly, but prudently, in renewable and carbon-free generation sources. We invested in smart grid and customer programs such as Energy Smart NB. And, we have done this while maintaining low and stable rates – minimizing rate increases over the past eight years (averaged slightly more than 1 per cent), and maintaining a diverse generation profile to ensure reliable power for our customers.

We took these steps to build a sustainable grid for New Brunswickers and to reduce electric bills across the province through the efficient and smart use of electricity.

Some key milestones on our mission to decarbonize New Brunswick’s electric system are:

  • adding 311 megawatts of wind energy across New Brunswick starting in 2007, for a reduction of 600,000 tonnes of GHG emissions per year
  • decommissioning the coal-fired facility at Grand Lake in 2010, for a reduction of 400,000 tonnes of GHG per year
  • decommissioning the fossil-fuel-fired facility at Dalhousie in 2012, for a reduction of 1,900,000 tonnes of GHG emissions per year
  • refurbishing the world’s first CANDU-6 nuclear reactor in 2012, for a continued reduction of 4,000,000 tonnes of GHG emissions per year
  • completing a series of requests for approximately 80 megawatts of new community-based wind energy in 2017, for an anticipated reduction of up to 200,000 tonnes of GHG emissions per year

Looking forward, we have completed extensive public consultations and studied the Mactaquac Life Achievement Project. If pursued, it would continue to save up to 1,300,000 tonnes of GHG emissions per year.

On behalf of our customers, we are also working hard to develop the smart grid of the future through our Energy Smart NB program. It is anticipated that by 2042 this program will see a further reduction of up to 1,100,000 tonnes of GHG emissions per year. That’s 9.5 million tonnes of GHG emissions per year – the equivalent of 2.5 million cars coming off the roads.

We are also pursuing alternative fuels for producing electricity by partnering with an innovative firm that is developing the use of hydrogen, an abundant and GHG-free fuel that could revolutionize the energy industry.

Also noteworthy is our work in advancing nuclear energy, another type of carbon-free electrical generation, with the pursuit of small modular nuclear reactors. This work will make New Brunswick a world-wide centre of excellence in the research, development, and potential demonstration in the next generation of safe and efficient nuclear energy. We have made great progress. At NB Power, our team knows we have more work to do to further reduce our carbon footprint.  On behalf of our customers, we are committed to achieving further reductions for future generations through an economically sustainable approach. 


Gaëtan Thomas is president and chief executive officer of NB Power. 

 

Empowering women in non-traditional roles

March 8 2019, 08:41 AM

Empowering women in non-traditional roles

Today is International Women’s Day, a day that celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, while also making a call to action to accelerate gender balance. This year’s theme is building a gender-balanced world. Coleson Cove’s Plant Manager, Kate LeBlanc, believes that creating gender balance within the workplace begins with supporting women in all fields.

Originally from Fredericton, Kate has a chemical engineering degree from the University of New Brunswick. She received her professional engineering qualification while working with NB Power and has been with the company for over 28 years. Her career began at the Chatham Generating Station where she was a contractor working on research projects. In 1990, she was hired to work with NB Power’s Plant Technical Services group in Fredericton.  She was transferred two years later to the Belledune station to join the commissioning team. From there, she moved into the Operations Group and then the Technical Department working primarily at the Belledune and Dalhousie Stations. She became the Chemistry and Environmental Supervisor at Coleson Cove in 2005, and the Maintenance Superintendent in 2015. Two years ago, she became the plant manager. 

 “As plant manager, I review the station’s status each day to make sure there are no issues and that the plant is reliable and running smoothly. I attend meetings, deal with the budget, work on long-term goals and objectives, and on project development,” explains Kate.

What Kate loves most about her job is its diversity. “From Finances, to helping employees, my job is so diverse. One of my favourite things is doing walk-throughs of the station and getting to talk to the great people I work with,” said Kate.

Kate explains that NB Power has always been supportive in allowing her to move into various roles throughout the company. She wants all women to have the opportunities she has had and believes in the importance of supporting women in all non-traditional roles, including science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers. "Having gender-balance in the workplace is important in helping companies thrive. It’s great that NB Power continues to have an increasing number of female engineers, contractors, operators, chemical technicians, structural maintenance workers, and mechanical crew members throughout the company,” says Kate.  

“Women have a lot to contribute to STEM and all other non-traditional career fields. I’m happy to share my story in hopes that it encourages young women to pursue their interests and show them that they too can do anything they want to do.”

NB Power offers Cybersecurity Internship to High School Graduate

February 12 2019, 10:44 AM

NB Power offers Cybersecurity Internship to High School Graduate

In today’s digital age, the need for cybersecurity is at an all-time high. Companies must constantly adapt to evolving technology in order to protect themselves against cyber threats. Because of this, cybersecurity experts are in increasingly high demand.                                             

Studies show that globally, there will be a shortage in the range of 2 to 3 million cybersecurity people by 2021. In Canada alone, there will be a need for more than 15 0000 new cybersecurity workers by 2023 (ISACA).

In response to the growing demand, NB Power has taken initiative by creating a Cybersecurity Internship Program for recent high school graduates interested in the Digital Technology field. The goal of the internship program is to build cybersecurity interest and expertise in New Brunswick while providing the intern with education and meaningful work experience in the field.

NB Power welcomed its first cybersecurity intern, Paul Rosal, in June of 2018.  After learning the foundations of cybersecurity through training, Paul began working closely with NB Power’s cybersecurity team.

“So far, it has been nothing but unbelievable,” said Rosal. “Learning the foundations of cybersecurity first hand in a workplace filled with extremely experienced workers feels surreal. Being involved in team discussions and projects makes you feel as if you have a say and a responsibility for the team you are working for,” he added.  

NB Power is one of only a few utilities companies to offer this type of program. It was Jamie Rees, NB Power’s Chief Information Security Officer, who had the idea to start the program. Rees recognized the benefit of getting more young people interested in cybersecurity as the opportunities in this field continue to rise.

“There is a lot to learn and only more to come as NB Power continues to digitize and modernize the power grid,” said Rees. “Paul started his internship by training with the professionals at Knowledge Park as part of NB Power’s partnership with Siemens. He comes with us to meetings to get to know people and learn about corporate culture. He works on independent projects and gets to see first hand how security design decisions are made and which elements besides the straight-up security of something come into play.”

Building expertise in the cybersecurity field is very important in the utility industry as there will only be more technological advancements to come, meaning the way cybersecurity is handled must also continue to advance and adapt.

“Accepting this internship instead of going straight to university after high school was a big decision, but it’s not every day that a seventeen-year-old graduate is given an opportunity to work for a big and respected company, and learn the ins and outs of the business,” said Rosal. “I really do believe that kids coming out of high school wanting to enter the Digital Technology world should consider this internship as a means of both post-secondary education and work experience, because it really does give you the best of both worlds.”

Raising Salmon at the Mactaquac Biodiversity Facility

December 14 2018, 10:00 AM

Raising Salmon at the Mactaquac Biodiversity Facility

When the air outside has cooled, and the rest of us begin to bundle up for the winter months ahead, the team at the Mactaquac Biodiversity Facility begin their prep for the next summer.  Every November, the team begins the months’ long process of spawning and rearing eggs and juvenile Atlantic salmon for release into the wild.

This process starts by catching healthy wild adult Atlantic Salmon juveniles, in waters above the head pond in the Saint John River (Wolastoq.) The fish are brought to the facility and reared to sexually mature adults over a period of 2 to 4 years. The majority of these mature fish are released back into the river to spawn naturally, but a small percentage are retained for captive breeding where eggs are extracted and fertilized on site. After being incubated for the next two months at the main facility, the eggs are moved across the river to the incubation building next to the Mactaquac Generating Station. The eggs are kept in large incubation tanks   where they will grow through the coldest months of the year until they hatch.

It’s this step in their journey, when the team at the Mactaquac Generating Station steps in to help. The incubation building is fed with warm water that comes out of the pump house at the Station. Because the temperatures can be unpredictable at times, the operators keep a close eye on the temperatures and adjust as needed so the temperatures inside the building stay at a safe level for the fish.

“There’s daily communication between our team and the team here at Mactaquac,” says John Whitelaw, a Biologist with the Biodiversity Facility. “This facility allows us to get an early start on hatching and feeding the fish. It’s incredibly important that the water temperatures and oxygen levels stay within a defined range, as it could stunt their growth or completely wipe out the eggs if we lose that.”


 

 

The young fish continue to benefit from this partnership once they’ve fully outgrown the tanks at the incubation building and get transported to the Aquadomes a short walk uphill. These domes are where they’ll spend the next few months growing until they reach their juvenile state and make their way back to the biodiversity facility across the river.

 

They’re transported in large tanks by truck across the dam where they are released into rock pools that mimic natural riverbeds. They’ll stay here until they’re big enough to be released back to the river to start their journey to the marine environment.

“This partnership began when the dam was built to mitigate loss with the operation of the dam,” says Whitelaw. “Since then, there has been a shift in thinking to conservation and preservation of the species. So in 1984, this early rearing facility was built as an add-on to what we were already doing to help us learn new things on how we use our facilities and how we can incorporate new science to help put more salmon back in the river.”

The Mactaquac Biodiversity Facility also collects migrating salmon and gaspereau at a specially designed fish lift at the Mactaquac Hydroelectric Dam and trucks and releases them upriver of the Dam.

How to make your holidays safe and energy efficient

December 12 2018, 15:52 PM

How to make your holidays safe and energy efficient

The holidays are almost here. For many, that means it’s time to dig out the lights, get out the holiday décor and trim those trees. Did you know it’s also a great time to use less energy? If you’re planning on stringing up some lights inside and outside your home this holiday, be sure to consider switching to LEDs (light emitting diodes.)

Using ENERGY STAR® certified LED lights is a great alternative to save power, since LED lights use less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs and last up to 10 times longer. Traditional bulbs consume about 7 watts of electricity per hour, per bulb, while LEDs use about 2 watts per hour, per strand.

Let’s take a look at what that translates to in dollars.

Light bulb type

Strands of Lights (50 bulbs/ strand)

Total cost (at $.1059/ KwH)

Traditional

6

$41

LED

6

$1.18

*based on bulbs running for 6 hours a day for 31 days. 

Another way you can control how much energy your holiday lights use, put both your indoor and outdoor lights on timers, and set them to turn on and off at set times.

Keep it safe

 

If you’ve got a lot of light-up decorations in your home, be careful not to plug too many into one outlet. It could result in heat building up in the wires, which could lead to a fire.

 

Here are a few other easy steps you can take in your home to help keep your family safe from electrical fires:

  • Make sure all extension cords and electric decorations are marked for proper use.
  • Turn off all indoor and outdoor decorations before going to sleep or leaving home.
  • When decorating outdoors keep yourself at least 10 meters away from power lines to keep yourself safe from electrical arching.
  • Make sure outdoor electric decorations are labelled for outdoor use.
  • Carefully inspect each electrical decoration. Cracked or damaged sockets, loose or bare wires and loose connections may result in shock or fire.
  • Modern lights have fused plugs, preventing sparks in case of a short circuit. Get rid of old lights that don’t have fuses and get a set of newer, safer lights.

 

By incorporating these habits into your routine each year, you can ensure your family has a safe, energy-efficient and happy holiday season. Visit the safety and save energy sections of our website for more great tips to use in your home.

 

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