PUC Smart Grid: Approved

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Monday was the day city council decided to hold an special  council meeting on the subject at hand. The city was very favourable towards the project and the motion for the $32.8-million upgrade was forwarded, on the belief that PUC will earn their $9 million in funding from provincial and federal levels.

If you read the article by SaultOnline/ONNtv’s Riley Smith, then you are already familiar with the PUC Smart Grid.

For a quick refresher, the PUC has proposed a Smart Grid system to be implemented into the city system. It would be the first of its kind to be used in a city wide application.

The two main components of the smart grid start with the first, Voltage Optimization. This is implemented when using household appliances for example, by being able to better regulate the energy being used in the house and can even lengthen the life of the appliance. It is said to be about 4% more efficient and the effects are also visible on the monthly bill.

The second is the distribution automation. This will be important in the event of power outages. The grid will be able to detect where the outage has happened and use energy from other ends of the grid to compensate for the houses that lost power for the time being. Rob Brewer, PUC CEO said during the council meeting today that “it could change the effects of power outages from 1000 houses to maybe only 10”. Without the distribution automation, whole areas in the city can lose power.

When asked about what the normal community member should expect, Brewer jokingly said “The normal community member will see their lights on much more often”. “What this project is going to do as soon as its live is going to cut the number of people that are affected by outages very very significantly.”

“If the project can move forward, we’d have the most advanced distribution system, upgrading all 4 corners of our city.” stated Mayor Christian Provenzano. Provenzano was not going to dive head first into this project either.

Our mayor also made it clear this was not a project he would dive head first into without knowing how every aspect would affect the city. “We’ve been working at this for over 4 years, it actually is a project we didn’t move ahead with a couple times because we saw challenges and problems that we didn’t think were worth the risk, so we de-risked it”. Provenzano also added “We’ve pushed back in a lot of the numbers and we’ve scaled the project back in a lot of ways. Before it got here for approval we worked hard on it to make sure that it was right in every way possible.”.

If it proceeds, the project could mean $9 million of work for local contractors, 120 direct and indirect jobs and an additional $250,000 for local tax coffers.
If the project goes ahead, engineering work on it will begin this fall and construction will start in the spring of 2019, with the completion slated for 2020.