Sudbury·Audio

Sault Ste. Marie new smart grid project will create savings

Sault Ste. Marie's new smart grid project is being hailed as a transformative project for the city.

CEO estimates a 2-4% savings for its customers

Sault Ste. Marie's smart grid project, which is run by PUC Distribution Inc., is in development now and will lower the cost of generating and distributing power to customers. (Colin Perkel/Canadian Press)

Sault Ste. Marie's new smart grid project is being hailed as a transformative project for the city.

The smart grid project, which is run by PUC Distribution Inc., is in development now and will lower the cost of generating and distributing power to customers. The entire project cost about $34 million.

Over the next decade, there will be more demand for electric vehicle hookups, roof-top solar energy and other new technology and the smart grid system will help the city move forward with that modernization, Robert Brewer, the CEO of PUC Distribution Inc, told CBC's Up North.

And customers will see some savings on their energy bills.

"If you look at the average person who probably spends roughly about $1200 a year on power, they might see a $50 savings as a result of it and that savings will be every year," Brewer said.

"It doesn't cost them anything. At the end of the day the majority of the project is paid for with the savings of the project."

Brewer estimates it's about two to four per cent savings for customers, but that isn't even the biggest benefit of the new smart grid system.

"Believe it or not there's a more significant benefit which is reliability... what we call distribution automation and that is where we in effect create a grid that self heals," he said. 

"When there's an outage it's able to pinpoint the outage quicker and it's able to liven up all the areas except for where the outage is, so instead of having hundreds of customers affected by say a tree falling on a power line we may have five or 10 customers affected by it."

Overall, Brewer said the new smart grid system's reliability will be a "huge benefit to the community."  

"[It's] a fantastic benefit for customers who are obviously inconvenienced every time they don't have power."

He also said the new system will allow them to fix power outages faster because the system will show the workers exactly where to look.

"The response time for getting the system back up and running is accelerated as well," Brewer said.

He added that the smart system will also create significant carbon savings.

"When you reduce the amount of energy consumed, you're reducing the amount that has to get output from the power plants," he said. "Some of those power plants end up producing carbon as a result of producing the energy."

Sault Ste. Marie's new Smart Grid Project promises customers fewer power interruptions - quicker responses and no more waiting in the dark. Coming up, we speak with the project lead about why this venture will eventually impact hydro customers across the country. 5:44

with files from Wendy Bird

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