OEB Approves Innovative Smart Grid Project for Sault St. Marie
PUC customers to benefit from lower bills and fewer outages
The Ontario Energy Board has approved PUC Distribution Inc.’s application to the regulator, allowing the utility to build the first community-wide smart grid project in Canada. The Sault Smart Grid Project (SSG Project) is not only a game changer for the city, but is expected to impact how other utilities across the country look at smart grid systems.
In its Decision, the OEB stated it finds that the SSG Project is in the public interest, delivering direct benefits to customers through reduction in energy consumption, reliability improvements and improved planning and data reporting systems. It also highlighted the “innovative” approach of the project.
PUC President and CEO Rob Brewer said the SSG project will not only help customers save on their monthly bill but it will also help the utility better prepare for emergencies such as black outs and storms and through its “self-healing” technology reduce the duration and number of outages.
“The smart grid technology can pinpoint the outage location immediately, allowing us to quickly restore power to all the areas except for where the problem is, so instead of hundreds of customers affected by a tree falling on a power line there may be only a handful of homes affected by it,” he added.
The sophisticated technology provides real-time pricing, empowering PUC customers to make decisions that can help them save money. The project will also reduce operations and management costs, resulting in lower power costs for customers.
Brewer said the project would not have been possible without the unwavering support from Mayor Christian Provenzano and council.
“The PUC team greatly appreciates the leadership of Mayor Provenzano and council who have been strong advocates for the project, recognizing the many benefits the smart grid will bring to the community,” said Brewer.
“This is really great news for our community and the PUC group of companies. We set out to become a national leader in the energy industry and with this project, that goal will be realized,” said Christian Provenzano, Mayor of Sault Ste. Marie.
“I want to recognize and express my sincere appreciation to Board Chair Jim Boniferro and the entire Board of Directors, CEO Robert Brewer, the executive management team and staff at the PUC. I also want to recognize and thank our MP Terry Sheehan for delivering critical project funding from the Department of Natural Resources’ Smart Grid Deployment Program. This project would not be a reality without that funding, our collective hard work and our perseverance.”
Brewer also recognized Sault Ste. Marie MP Terry Sheehan’s tireless efforts and the pivotal role he played in helping to ensure necessary funding for the SSG project.
“MP Terry Sheehan has been a true champion of this project,” said Brewer. Through National Resources Canada (NRCan), the Federal Government is supporting the project with $11.8 million in funding.
“The $11.8 million Federal investment I announced for the creation of this Smart Grid will mean lower electricity costs for Sault Ste. Marie homes and businesses. Customers will benefit from better reliability, efficiency and resiliency of their local electric network,” said Terry Sheehan, Member of Parliament for Sault Ste. Marie. “The Smart Grid will also produce new economic opportunities for our community in construction jobs as the grid is created, and will attract the interest of a range of industries associated with Canada’s clean energy sector. This includes manufacturing, e-commerce, telecommunications services, and data centres. This investment will also help fight the realities of climate change.”
Brewer also acknowledged the contribution of Infrastructure Energy who played an essential role in the initial stages of the project.
“I also want to thank the Provincial Government and Sault Ste. Marie MPP Ross Romano for recognizing the importance of this project for the community,” added Brewer.
The $34 million SSG Project, scheduled to be completed by the end of 2022, will be the largest project in PUC’s 100 plus year history.
“We wouldn’t have been able to do this without all the hard work and dedication from many PUC employees,” said Brewer.