Artificial intelligence is coming to Summerside

BluWave-ai is developing artificial intelligence software that will automatically decide how much power needs to be imported for the electrical grid system for the City of Summerside's electrical utility.

'A better financial outcome for the customers as well as a better outcome for the environment'

Summerside is excited to try new software from the company BluWave-ai to try to reduce its energy costs. (CBC)

BluWave-ai is developing artificial intelligence software that will automatically decide how much power needs to be imported for the electrical grid system for the City of Summerside's electrical utility.

In a pilot project over the next two years, it will gauge variables including wind energy at the city's wind farm and solar energy production at the solar farm at Credit Union Place in Summerside, and more. 

"The software will take all of that information and try to make the best decisions for the electrical grid to try to incorporate more renewable energy as well as make better financial decisions," said Greg Gaudet, manager of municipal services for the City of Summerside.

To top up what it can produce itself, Summerside Electric imports power from New Brunswick Power — right now, it imports about 56 per cent of what it needs.

"If we make better decisions, we can reduce that import of electricity," said Gaudet, and minimize expenses.  

'More renewable energy'

The first step in the collaboration between BluWave and Summerside will take past data from the power utility and simulate whether the software can make better predictions. The second part of the project would be to install the new software in part of the system and see if it actually improves the bottom line compared to human decisions. If it works, the city would adopt the new software.

"In the end, we want to incorporate more renewable energy, that's variable in nature, and try to predict it better so we can make better use of the resources the utility has for a better financial outcome for the customers as well as a better outcome for the environment," Gaudet explained. 

BluWave-ai is using Summerside as a testing ground for the software, as well as Ottawa Hydro, Gaudet said.

The city has made no financial contribution except for in-kind services from existing staff. If the project is successful the city would seek funding to implement the software. 

Gaudet said the city does not foresee any changes to electrical rates as a result of the project.

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With files from Laura Chapin