SHEDIAC (GNB) – Shediac will be the home of the province’s first Smart Energy Community Project. NB Power received $5.7 million from Natural Resources Canada to create a new green energy initiative for the town. The project will serve as a testing ground for new technologies that are being developed by NB Power and Siemens Canada.

A sister project in Amherst, led by Nova Scotia Power, is getting $5.1 million from Natural Resources Canada’s $100 million Smart Grid Program.

“Our goal is to meet the future needs of our customers in a safe, reliable and cost-effective way by gradually eliminating the remaining 20 to 25 per cent of our power generation that is carbon producing while ensuring we protect our customers from the significant rate increases that have resulted from this transition elsewhere,” said NB Power president and CEO Gaëtan Thomas. “The only way to have a fully renewable future is with the integration of smart grid technologies that ease the acceptance of small-scale renewables onto the grid, and this pilot project will allow for testing the integration of small-scale solar power and battery storage along with other smart technologies into customers’ homes.”

This funding will help all partners fulfil the vision for the Smart Grid Atlantic projects. The goal is to develop and demonstrate smart grid technologies that will speed the adoption of new renewable energy and storage technologies while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The work will enable the provincial power utilities to shorten outages, better integrate customer-owned renewable energy assets onto the power grid, improve resiliency and self-sufficiency for individual communities, lower greenhouse gas emissions and protect customers from potential rate increases related to the adoption of these new technologies.

“These smart investments in electricity infrastructure build a stronger and more resilient grid and help build better connections between communities,” said Fundy Royal MP Alaina Lockhart. “Incorporating renewables, smart meters and battery storage into Canadians’ homes and businesses will help power real change in terms of emissions reduction and increase awareness of energy consumption.”

Lockhart attended for federal Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi.

The utilities will also work with customers to manage energy consumption and test new electricity pricing options. Each utility will focus on slightly different aspects of testing, so that results can be shared across the two provinces. Nova Scotia Power’s participation is contingent on approval from the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board.

In Shediac, 500 homes will be selected to test technologies such as smart thermostats, solar rooftop generation, smart water heaters and in-home battery storage. The utility will also focus on potential cybersecurity issues posed by these connected devices and test varying rate schemes. In Amherst, the focus will be on commercial applications. Solar panels with battery storage on a number of commercial buildings will help manage customer demand and reliability needs, and smart electric vehicle charging will be tested for optimal charging in the community. The construction of a solar farm in each community will add green power to the grid while giving both utilities valuable grid experience in managing solar generation of this size.

“Our customers count on us for reliable, affordable and clean energy,” said Nova Scotia Power president and CEO Karen Hutt. “As we continue to lead Canada in reducing carbon emissions, we need innovative solutions to add new energy sources to our grid. Contingent on approval by our regulator, investing in the Amherst smart grid project will help us learn how to best incorporate new technologies to serve our customers, while showcasing Amherst as a progressive, smart-energy community.”

NB Power will begin recruiting homeowners in Shediac next week to become part of the project. Nearly 1,000 will be needed for Phase 1. The utility will host an open house in Shediac on June 18 to provide details to residents who may be interested in participating.

This interprovincial partnership supports a commitment by the Atlantic premiers and the federal government to develop a Clean Power Roadmap for Atlantic Canada.

The projects are part of the $92.7 million Smart Grid Atlantic Initiative formed by NB Power with Siemens Canada and Nova Scotia Power. This initiative received $35.7 million from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada at an announcement on Jan. 29 in Fredericton.