National Tradesperson Day
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.”
National Lineworker Appreciation Day
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.”
Behind the Scenes of Power Restoration: how we work on continuously getting better
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.
Safe access to your meter benefits everyone
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.
Behind the scenes of power restoration
March 3 2021, 09:09 AM
Have you ever wondered what happens after you call NB Power to report an outage? If it happens during a storm, rest assured that lots of work has already taken place to ensure the duration of the outage is as short as possible for our customers. In this post, and through a series of articles to be featured throughout this month, we will take you behind the scenes of our power restoration efforts.
Before the storm
With 20,815 km of line – which is enough to stretch across Canada four times - getting the power back on after a major storm is a big job. That’s why we are constantly monitoring the weather to anticipate storms and we take action before outages happen.
You may be asking yourself; how can you prepare without knowing what will happen? Our team works year-round to minimize the impacts of outages – from equipment maintenance, vegetation management, weather monitoring and software improvements - a whole lot of effort goes into maintaining and restoring power.
We also leverage new technologies to better prepare for storms. Our Transmission and Distribution Field Operations Emergency Planning team constantly monitors the weather, and with the use of various tools, they can assess the estimated number of outages and determine where they will most likely hit.
As soon as we see the potential for outages, we determine if we need to pre-emptively dispatch crews. This is called “staging”. When crews are staged, they are placed in specific areas, and are ready to get to work as soon as it is required. If we know a big weather event is coming our way, on top of staging our NB Power crews, we secure additional contractor crews in areas throughout the province predicted to experience the worst effects of a storm.
During the restoration effort
The safety of our customers and employees is our top priority. That’s why, when a storm is still raging and visibility and road conditions are bad, our crews are sometimes not able to get to access the damage immediately. But as soon as it is determined safe, we activate our power restoration plans.
Our goal is always to restore power as quickly and safely as possible. To achieve this, we need to set priorities. During an outage, you may notice that some areas have their power restored before others. This can happen because many different faults can cause an outage. Whenever this happens, NB Power must prioritize which faults will be addressed first.
We direct our resources to address the following issues in order of importance: first, we check the system and repair damage to power plants, transmission lines and substations. Then, we restore power to critical services such as hospitals, police, fire, water and communication systems. At the same time, we determine where we can make repairs that will return service to the largest number of customers in the least amount of time, such as high-density housing and large neighbourhoods. Finally, we restore power to smaller neighbourhoods and individual customers.
During storms, you may be concerned if you don’t see NB Power crews close to your home. That doesn’t mean we are not working on restoring your power. The damage to our distribution system can be far from your neighbourhood, but still impacts it.
Sometimes the cause of an outage may be difficult to locate or access, which can impact the time it takes our teams to restore your power. As soon as our team assesses the cause of an outage and initiates the plan to fix it, our website displays an estimated time when power will be restored. We update those pages with information from the field as soon as it becomes available. In some cases, this means these estimates can change. But our team will continue to work as safely and efficiently as possible until everyone is restored.