Wind Energy Tied to Maritime Electric Considered Success

OTTAWA - - A five-year wind-energy research project that Maritime Electric was involved with is being called a success. PowerShift Atlantic proved utilities can partner with customers and shift their power use from costly, high-demand times to lower-use times to get the most out of wind energy.

A special device attached to hot water heaters and a smart meter allowed Maritime Electric to only heat the water when wind energy was being generated or during lower-demand hours when electricity is cheaper.

Maritime Electric customer Micheline Dufour says she didn't notice the utility turning her hot water heater off and on.

"If it avoided them to buy some more electricity at top dollar, well I'm all for it," said Dufour, one of 1,400 customers in the Maritimes who took part in PowerShift Atlantic.

Project manager Michel Losier says 80 per cent of those customers were happy and he says the project proved, on a small scale, utilities can even out electricity use and avoid having to construct new energy generation, which Losier says is a win-win for customers.

"And if we better operate the system, offset the need to build, and burn less fossil fuel, we'll better manage rates."

But Losier says customers will have to wait for those savings. He says PowerShift is ahead of its time. Losier says it could take decades for smart technology to catch up and make this affordable on a larger scale.

That forward-thinking is likely why PowerShift Atlantic was just named one of the top 20 organizations transforming electricity use in the world, a list that also includes the electric car manufacturer Tesla.


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