Sault Ste. Marie PUC
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PUC Proposes Community-Wide Electrical Distribution System Upgrade
Posted: Jul 06, 2018

On Monday, July 9th, at a special meeting of Council, PUC President & CEO, Rob Brewer will be seeking Council approval for a proposed Community Smart Grid Project. This proposed community-wide infrastructure renewal project will see the investment of new technology into the local electricity system that will see improved system efficiency, a reduction in the frequency of power outages, and when they occur shorter power interruptions.

“Essentially, what we aim to do with this project is to modernize our community’s electricity grid,” says, PUC President & CEO, Rob Brewer. “Once the project is completed, our customers will have access to an electricity grid that can handle the demands of a city in the 21st century.”

“This project has been something we have been working on in for a number of years,” says, Brewer. “We are fortunate to have excellent project partners that are helping to bring this project to life.” The Project Group includes; Infrastructure Energy as the developer, Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners as the investor, and Black & Veatch as the contractor.

“Smart Grid” is a general industry term that is used to describe the recent incorporation of both automated technical infrastructure and renewable energy in the electricity industry. Locally, the word is being used to describe the integration of new technology into our electric system that will, among other things, allow us to better control the voltage being delivered to customers. While this will result in an increase in energy efficiency, customers will also find that the improved voltage efficiency will result in a 4% energy savings thereby reducing their energy consumption, and ultimately their electricity bill. (Click here for more information on Voltage Optimization)

The other significant benefit of PUC’s proposed Smart Grid Project is what is known as, Distributed Automation. Distributed Automation allows the distribution system to “self-heal”. This means, that when the system experiences a power interruption, through automation, the system has the ability to automatically open and close switches in the distribution system to minimize the size and number of customers affect by the outage. (Click here for more information on Distributed Automation).  This technology will not only decrease the amount of outages customers’ experience but will also reduce the duration of those outages.

“I think that it’s fair to say, the first question on the minds of most customers is; ‘This project sounds good, but how much will this cost me?’”, says, Giordan Zin, PUC Supervisor of Customer Engagement. “Well, the answer is, the Smart Grid project can be completed without a net increase in the customer’s bill. This is because while the project will increase PUC’s Capital costs, customers will actually see a decrease in energy consumption - which means a lower electricity bill.”

Should PUC receive Council’s approval on Monday, the project will move to the engineering stage, with the goal of starting construction by 2019. PUC is committed to keeping customers informed on the progress of this exciting project, and will be providing updates as new information is available.

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