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Ryan Mitchell is the president and CEO of Saint John Energy. Image: Saint John Energy

Saint John Energy celebrates achievements during AGM

By Brad Perry Jun 23, 2023 | 2:05 PM

The CEO of Saint John Energy says he is grateful for the progress they have made over the past year.

Ryan Mitchell highlighted some of the utility’s achievements during its annual general meeting on Thursday.

Mitchell spoke about the importance of the Burchill wind farm, which marked its grand opening earlier in June.

“This project underscored the importance of partnerships — partnerships that we forged with Natural Forces and the Tobique First Nation to make it happen,” Mitchell told those attending the virtual meeting.

“I’m also grateful to our government partners for their support. Partnerships like this will be increasingly important with the energy transition.”

RELATED: Saint John’s first wind project marks grand opening

Saint John Energy will buy the energy produced by the 42-megawatt wind farm at a locked-in rate for 25 years.

Officials said the 10 turbines will produce enough power to supply up to 15 per cent of the city’s energy needs.

It also helps the municipal electric utility get closer to its goal of achieving net-zero emissions by the end of the decade.

In late May, Saint John Energy received nearly $4 million in federal funding to help develop a net-zero roadmap.

“The federal government has asked electricity companies in Canada to reach net zero in their operations by 2035, as a key step in the country reaching carbon neutrality by 2050. We are targeting five years earlier,” said Mitchell.

“For two years now, we’ve been pursuing a vision of being a national utility leader in the transition to net-zero, which is why we have now firmly set out sights on 2030.”

RELATED: Saint John Energy gets $4M for net-zero roadmap

The roadmap, titled Zero30, will focus on three primary pillars: achieving a cleaner energy supply, planning for significantly greater electricity demand, and customer innovation.

Mitchell also provided an update on the utility’s financial situation, which is now exceeding pre-pandemic levels.

Saint John Energy recorded a net income of $3.576 million in 2022, compared to $3.069 million in 2019.

The utility saw its net income drop drastically to $74,000 in 2020 before rebounding somewhat to $1.914 million in 2021.

Mitchell said the utility’s efforts at curbing peak demand resulted in more than $1.1 million in savings last year — the best result since the Shave the Peak campaign was launched three years ago.

“Times of peak demand are costly, attracting charges from our wholesale supplier of electricity that costs us up to $30 million a year,” he said.

“That’s because in order to satisfy peak demand, the provincial utility often needs to bring fossil fuel-generating plants online.”

RELATED: Saint John Energy receives national recognition

The utility recently purchased a Tesla Megapack battery that can be used to store energy during off-peak times and discharge it during peak times.

Mitchell said three more batteries will arrive in the city later this year and be operational next year.

“They will be tremendous assets not only in shaving the peak but also available to balance the energy produced by the Burchill wind farm,” he said.

An overriding focus at Saint John Energy has revolved around keeping power rates stable and affordable, said Mitchell.

He noted that power rates in Saint John are 10 per cent lower than Fredericton and Moncton, and more than 30 per cent lower than Halifax and Halifax.

“Maintaining competitive rates for our customers has been and will continue to be a priority for Saint John Energy,” said Mitchell.


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