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Utilities Prepare For Higher Electricity Demand

By Brad Perry Feb 3, 2023 | 6:10 AM

New Brunswick’s electric utilities are preparing for high energy demand this weekend due to the extreme cold.

And utilities are asking customers to do their part to help them reduce what is known as ‘peak demand’.

Peak demand, according to NB Power, is the highest one-hour load requirement on the electricity grid.

The lower the temperature, the more electricity is used by New Brunswickers to stay warm and energize their homes and businesses.

With frigid temperatures expected over the next couple of days, electricity usage is expected to climb.

Shelley Wood, an executive director with Saint John Energy, said they do lots of forecasting to determine when peaks in energy demand will happen.

“Peaks in energy demand can be very costly and not only financially. They can be costly for the environment as well,” Wood said in an interview on Thursday.

That is because generating stations that burn fossil fuels often have to be brought online to meet that demand.

Wood said there are steps utilities take to reduce energy usage, such as dialing down the voltage on their system.

Customers do not notice the difference, she said, but the energy savings can be significant for the utility.

In the case of Saint John Energy, the utility has a Tesla Megapack battery which can store up energy at off-peak times for use during peak.

It also has a partnership with Saint John Water that allows them to tap into its generators during peak hours.

As utilities work to reduce the peak of energy demand, Wood said customers can also play a role.

“Turning the thermostat down in a room that you’re not using or even just dropping the temperature in your home by one degree can make a really big difference,” she said.

Other suggestions include saving on hot water by skipping a shower or putting the laundry in a little bit later.

Wood said they anticipate this weekend’s energy peak will be on Saturday morning, but that could change.


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