NB Power boss comes to county - Jan. 18, 2013
NB Power has a plan – but the utility wants public input.
On Tuesday morning, NB Power president and CEO Gaetan Thomas will address the St. Stephen and Area Chamber of Commerce, speaking on the intent to move towards “smart meters.” These devices not only measure how much energy a home or business uses, but when it uses that energy.
The intent, said Thomas, is to educate consumers in hopes the provincial population will shift demand away from the typical peaks of the early morning, and the evening dinner hour.
“The first thing we need to do is explain to our customers what the options are, and how the technology works,” he said.
He cautioned that the move is not a prelude to peak-power electricity structures where power used in the morning and dinner hours costs more – a move made in many other jurisdictions.
It’s unfair to do that without offering consumers ways to shift demand to other times of the day.
“If customers don’t have options, some people will not respond to that very well, and might not change their consumption.”
A simple example, said Thomas, lies in installing a delay timer in water heaters so that water is not immediately re-heated after morning showers. By waiting an hour or two, the energy to heat that water comes from non-peak times.
Shift enough demand to non-peak hours, he reasoned, and the utility will be spared the necessity of constructing costly new power plants.
The first approach, he said, will be to increase awareness, by providing information – that’s the primary and initial purpose of the new smart meters.
“They will consume electricity more wisely, off-peak,”
Energy storing devices, heat pumps, water heaters, and solar hot water pre-heating technology are other tools NB Power customers can use to aid the move to shift demand to off-peak hours.
“We’re going to take this slowly. We’re going to take feedback from our customers.”
He dismissed suggestions the province might be plagued by challenges faced in other jurisdictions, stating Seimens, the company providing the meters, will be engaged in the roll-out process.
“They have very, very high standards.”
Tuesday’s visit to St. Stephen is part of a province-wide awareness campaign, aimed at increasing knowledge and garnering feedback, he said.
“The most important thing next week is to engage our customers, and get their feedback.”
The meeting is slated to start at 7:30 a.m., at Trinity Hall, 30 Prince William Street, in St. Stephen. There is a $10 charge, to cover breakfast. A small business meeting will precede Thomas’s address. To attend the breakfast meeting, please advise Chamber office at 466-7703 or email email@example.com before the end of today (Friday.)