From The Nugget, by PJ Wilson;
Nancy and Norman are on duty.
They are the two generators which are part of the Community Energy Park , the first utility-scale microgrid in Canada and the first resiliency hub in North America.
And the names of the generators?
“It gives them a bit of a personality,” Trevor Lee Laronde, plant operator/supervisor with North Bay Hydro Services said Wednesday at the official opening of the facility behind Memorial Gardens.
“It’s a first in Canada,” Paul McMullen of S&C Electric Company, one of the partners in the project, said.
The $4.5-million facility can not only provide power to Memorial Gardens, the YMCA and Thomson Park but will be able to continue to operate indefinitely in the event of a massive power outage, such as the blackout that affected most of Ontario and a large part of the Northeastern United States in 2003, offering a “safe haven” for members of the community.
“If something happens at the local or provincial level, this will keep them going,” Nipissing-Timiskaming MP Anthony Rota said, offering “security in the lives of the people” of the city.
The fully automated facility will be able to kick in with only a short “blip” of the lights.
As a first in Canada and North America, Terry Young, vice-president of policy, engagement and innovation of the Independent Electricity System Operator, said the facility is already attracting interest from other operators across the province.
It will also help in the fight against climate change, North Bay Deputy Mayor Tanya Vrebosch said, relying on solar, natural gas-powered co-generation and battery banks to help alleviate the draw on the current hydro generation system.
The system has been under testing for the past six months, with three of those months in the winter “with all that snow,” Matt Payne, president and COO of North Bay Hydro Services.
“It’s a state-of-the-art system” that, he said, is already drawing global attention.
Various utilities from across the province, including Hydro One, are looking at the system with plans to replicate it in other communities.
“This is incredible,” Payne said, noting the idea came about several years ago when members of North Bay Hydro, North Bay Hydro Services and the city got together to figure out if such a project was possible and feasible.
The project received funding from the provincial government ($1 million), the federal government ($750,000) and the city ($261,000).
The microgrid combines the electricity and heat of a cogenerator with solar power to supply 87 per cent of the electricity needs for the YMCA, Aquatic Centre, Memorial Gardens and Thomson Park, while also supplying more than 55 per cent of the heating requirements for the aquatic centre and Memorial Gardens.
Payne said the facility is fully self-sustaining, and if the power grid does suffer another catastrophic failure like the 2003 blackout will go into “island mode” to keep the lights and heat on at the YMCA and Memorial Gardens.
“In an emergency, there will always be a place to go,” Vrebosch said. “We will always have an energy backup.”
There is also room for expansion, North Bay Coun. Chris Mayne, noted, particularly with the possibility of providing energy to a redeveloped Cassellholme.
Mayne said that possibility was broached Wednesday morning before the official opening, utilizing the additional capacity.
It’s a discussion, he said, that will continue during the redevelopment of the home for the aged, and said at one point Cassellholme looked at building its own co-generation plant.
Original Source: North Bay Nugget