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First-in-Canada Community Wide Smart Grid Project Advances in Sault Ste. Marie

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Sault Ste. Marie is set to host an advanced, community wide smart grid project that will be a first in Canada. PUC Distribution Inc., the community owned, local distribution company has received approval from the Ontario Energy Board to enable the project to proceed.
 
The Sault Smart Grid Project (SSG Project) is a community wide smart grid that will cover PUC Distribution’s entire service territory. The SSG Project is expected to transform the entire distribution system through an integrated project implementing various technologies such as Voltage/VAR Optimization, Distribution Automation and Advanced Metering Infrastructure thus creating a grid that is ready for the future along with meeting new and growing demand for reliable and high-quality power.
 
The SSG Project delivers direct benefits to customers through reduction in energy consumption and monthly bills, reliability improvements and improved planning and data reporting systems. The project will also deliver significant, direct GHG emissions reductions of 2,804 tonnes CO2 annually.
 
The project is innovative, locally supported and has secured significant funding from Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) of $11,800,000.
 
Since 2008, nearly $1B of energy investments have been made in the Sault Ste. Marie region and City Council declared the community the “Alternative Energy Capital of North America” with an impressive array of energy projects including:
  • 272 MW of wind generation
  • 68MW solar generation
  • 203MW hydroelectric generation
  • 7MW battery storage project
  • 70MW cogeneration facility at Algoma Steel
  • Headquarters of Heliene a solar panel manufacturing facility
  • Smart meters deployed to all customers
  • Community wide LED street light installation
 
In order to secure a competitive price for the Project, PUC Distribution conducted a competitive, public tendering process to select a contractor for EPC services. The EPC contract will be carried out by Overland Contracting Canada Inc., wholly owned subsidiary of Black and Veatch. The total project cost is estimated to be $34M and is scheduled to be in-service by the end of 2022.
 
“This is really great news for our community and the PUC group of companies. We set out to become a national leader in the energy industry and with this project, that goal will be realized,” said Christian Provenzano, Mayor of Sault Ste. Marie. “I want to recognize and express my sincere appreciation to Board Chair Jim Boniferro and the entire Board of Directors, CEO Robert Brewer, the executive management team and staff at the PUC. I also want to recognize and thank our MP Terry Sheehan for delivering critical project funding from the Department of Natural Resources’ Smart Grid Deployment Program. This project would not be a reality without that funding, our collective hard work and our perseverance.”
 
“The SSG project will not only help customers save on their monthly bill but it will also help the utility better prepare for emergencies such as black outs and storms and through its “self-healing” technology reduce the duration and number of outages,” said Rob Brewer, PUC President and CEO. “The smart grid technology can pinpoint the outage location immediately, allowing us to quickly restore power to all the areas except for where the problem is, so instead of hundreds of customers affected by a tree falling on a power line there may be only a handful of homes affected by it.”
 
“The $11.8 million Federal investment I announced for the creation of this Smart Grid will mean lower electricity costs for Sault Ste. Marie homes and businesses. Customers will benefit from better reliability, efficiency and resiliency of their local electric network,” said Terry Sheehan, Member of Parliament for Sault Ste. Marie.  “The Smart Grid will also produce new economic opportunities for our community in construction jobs as the grid is created, and will attract the interest of a range of industries associated with Canada’s clean energy sector. This includes manufacturing, e-commerce, telecommunications services, and data centres. This investment will also help fight the realities of climate change.”
 
“From an economic development perspective, businesses interested in high quality, highly reliable, green power at some of the lowest cost in Ontario will find advantage in locating in Sault Ste. Marie,” said Tom Vair, Deputy CAO, Community Development and Enterprise Services. “The smart grid project furthers the community’s position as a lab for the grid of the future and provides a platform for further industry research and development.”
 
PUC Distribution serves approximately 33,500 mostly residential and commercial electricity customers in the City of Sault Ste. Marie as well as parts of Prince Township, Dennis Township and the Rankin Reserve.
 

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