Two Canadian utilities begin a pilot joint dispatch program

Canadian utilities NB Power and Nova Scotia Power have launched a pilot project to work together to deliver electricity to both provinces with expected savings of up to C$20 million per year.

For the first time, the two utilities said March 27 that they will jointly optimize their generation fleets, improving efficiency and providing long-term cost savings for customers in the provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

“This is a significant agreement for our utilities to work together in this way,” said NB Power President and CEO Gaëtan Thomas. “We’re two small provinces and close neighbours with a long history of cooperation. Working together to find ways to benefit New Brunswickers and Nova Scotians – to save them money in their homes and businesses – is the right thing to do for our region. We’re pleased to continue working closely with our friends in Nova Scotia to find new and innovative ways to help our customers.”

The two utilities will pilot a model of cooperative dispatch between the two provinces, enabling optimization of their power plants while ensuring both provinces continue to meet their renewable energy and emissions standards. The 12-month pilot program will see New Brunswick and Nova Scotia generating stations dispatched as one fleet using the current tie-line capacity with no additional investment.  The project builds on a reserve sharing agreement already in place between the two utilities whereby the required “back-up” generation for both provinces is a shared responsibility.

“This is the next step in a cooperative relationship between our two utilities to find common sense ways to benefit our region,” said Bob Hanf, CEO of Nova Scotia Power. “In the early 1970s, our two provinces were among the first to interconnect their electrical grids with a tie-line. This project is a logical next step that will improve our systems and provide long-term cost savings to customers in both provinces.”

The cooperative dispatch pilot began early testing in January, has recently expanded successfully, and is planned for the next 12 months. The time-frame for cost savings has been studied and has estimated value of up to C$20 million per year shared between the two utilities between 2015 and 2022 depending on a variety of factors including weather and fuel costs.

NS Power operates four coal-fired power plants, another that runs on natural gas or oil, three oil-burning combustion turbines, one tidal and 33 hydro stations, two wind farms, two sites with single wind turbines, and a new biomass power plant, said the utility website. It also purchases renewable electricity from independent power producers throughout the province and imports electricity through a transmission line connecting Nova Scotia with New Brunswick.

NB Power’s electricity is generated at 13 facilities throughout New Brunswick and delivered via power lines, substations and terminals to more than 350,000 New Brunswick homes, businesses, hospitals, schools etc. The utility also exports electricity to New England, Quebec, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. Its generation mix is about 65% non-emitting with a goal to get to 75% by 2020.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.