Siemens and NB Power strike smart grid pact

Siemens Canada and NB Power have struck an agreement that will see the global technology company open a new research and development centre in Fredericton.

Siemens will employ 40 people in a new research centre

Siemens Canada and NB Power have struck an agreement that will see the global technology company create a 10 year energy road map for the province.

The new partnership also sees the company open a new research and development centre in Fredericton.

Gaëtan Thomas, the president and chief executive officer of NB Power, said the use of the smart grid technology will help customers in the future.

"This relationship will be long lasting, and will modernize the New Brunswick electricity system and the way our customers view their own electricity consumption. It will also provide long-term benefits to our customers," Thomas said in a statement.

NB Power says the deal will help reduce generation costs and greenhouse gas emissions.

Payment details in works

What NB Power pays Siemens will "depend on the scope of work," according to the utility.

The precise nature of the programs are still being worked out between the two companies.

Siemens will establish a Smart Grid Centre of Competence in Fredericton, which will employ 40 people, according to the company.

Invest NB will be subsidizing a portion of those jobs, but CEO Robert MacLeod would not comment on how much the deal would cost taxpayers, saying that figure is still being finalized.

Invest NB will only subsidize the 15 to 20 information technology jobs, not the engineering positions involved in running the grid.

NB Power will pay Siemens for that service, which could cost millions of dollars per year.

More control

Jan Mrosik, the global head of Siemens Smart Grid, said the global technology company is looking forward to setting up in New Brunswick.

"This partnership presents us with the unique opportunity to showcase Siemens’ world-class smart grid technology and expertise with a fully integrated and innovative utility like NB Power," Mrosik said in a statement.

The idea behind smart grids is that it gives customers more control over how they use electricity. The system would give customers incentives to use power at non-peak times, such as at night, when there is less demand.

Mrosik said this technology could lead to lower bills and lower emissions from power plants.

"There's a greater flexibility for customers to deal with their energy charges and their energy consumption in a way that also matches with the generation capacities that we have in the grid," Mrosik said.

Premier David Alward left the annual premiers’ meeting in Halifax on Wednesday morning to attend the Siemens press conference.

"We'll save hundreds of millions of dollars in the long run and this means that NB Power will have to spend much less in generation," Alward said.