Combating climate change requires new and innovative approaches to electricity distribution. Upgrading infrastructure with new technologies will create jobs and lower energy costs while also protecting the environment by lowering carbon emissions.
The federal government announced a $10.8-million investment in a smart grid project that will see New Brunswick Power and Nova Scotia Power pilot new digital technologies that will create 150 jobs and reduce emissions by 2,800 tonnes by 2030, while lowering costs for consumers.
The Collaborative Grid Innovation for Atlantic Smart Energy Communities project involves piloting smart grid infrastructure and will make it easier to incorporate renewable energy onto the electricity grid in Shediac, N.B. and Amherst.
In Shediac, 500 homes will be selected to test technologies such as smart meters, time-varying rates, smart thermostats, solar rooftops and in-home battery storage. The utility will also focus on potential cybersecurity issues posed by these connected devices.
"These smart investments will not only ensure that families have lower energy costs, they will also create a stronger grid and help build better connections between communities. At the same time, incorporating renewables, smart meters and battery storage will significantly reduce emissions — something all families want to do," Fundy Royal MP and Parliamentary Secretary to the minister of Tourism, Official Languages and La Francophonie Alaina Lockhart said.
In Amherst, the focus will be on commercial applications, including solar panels with battery storage on commercial buildings to help manage customer demand and reliability needs, and smart electric vehicle charging trials for optimal charging. The construction of two solar farms will also help power homes and businesses in the region.
“We look forward to participating in this Smart Grid project as we in the Town of Amherst recognize new and innovate approaches are needed for electricity distribution,” Amherst Mayor David Kogon said in an email to the Amherst News. “One of the town’s priorities is becoming a greener community and this project will not only help Amherst become greener, but will help the entire province of Nova Scotia achieve the same goal.”
NB Power and NS Power will also work with customers to manage energy consumption and test new electricity pricing options. Results and lessons learned from each utility will be shared across the two provinces.
This inter-provincial partnership — which is receiving funding through Natural Resources Canada's Smart Grid Program — supports the commitment by the Atlantic premiers and the federal government to develop a Clean Power Roadmap for Atlantic Canada.
"The project will contribute to building and growing a smart grid industry cluster in Atlantic Canada by supporting new business models and policy solutions. I am delighted to see that Amherst, in particular, will be the centre of this activity in Nova Scotia," Cumberland-Colchester MP Bill Casey said in a news release from the federal Natural Resources Department.
Back in January, federal Rural Economic Development Minister Bernadette Jordan announced a $93-million clean energy project being led by Siemens Canada Ltd. as well as Nova Scotia Power and NB Power.
Under the Amherst project, Siemens Canada will research and develop smart grid technology to help better manage the two provinces’ electricity and build Canadian expertise that could improve the sustainability and efficiency of power grids around the world.
The project is receiving a $35-million investment from the federal government through its Strategic Innovation Fund. An estimated 241 jobs are expected to be created or maintained throughout Atlantic Canada as a result of the project.