AMHERST, N.S. — As a green community willing to take a chance on trying new things when it comes to renewable energy, Amherst is developing a can-do reputation.
That commitment to green power was recognized on Thursday when the federal Rural Economic Development Minister, Bernadette Jordan, and Karen Hutt, CEO of Nova Scotia Power, came to Amherst to announce a $93-million clean energy project being led by Siemens Canada Ltd., NSP and New Brunswick Power.
It is expected the project will help improve power delivery to underserviced communities, better integrate renewable energy into the power grid and reduce future electricity costs for consumers.
Under the Amherst project, Siemens Canada will research and develop smart grid technology to help better manage the two provinces’ electricity and build Canadian expertise that could improve the sustainability and efficiency of power grids around the world.
The project is receiving a $35-million investment from the federal government through its Strategic Innovation Fund. An estimated 241 jobs are expected to be created or maintained throughout Atlantic Canada as a result of the project.
Siemens Canada will work with the power corporations in both Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to develop and implement a powerful cloud-based energy system platform allowing everyone to participate in the energy market.
“Our customers count on us for reliable, affordable and clean energy. As we continue to lead Canada in reducing carbon emissions, we need innovative solutions to add new energy sources to our grid,” Hutt said at the project announcement. “Contingent upon approval by our regulator, investing in the Amherst Smartgrid Project will help us learn how to best incorporate new technologies to serve our customers, while showcasing Amherst as a progressive, smart-energy community.”
Hutt said the Amherst Smartgrid should help Nova Scotia Power toward a goal of cutting carbon emissions by 58 per cent by 2030.
“While we’re proud of our progress we’ve reached a saturation point with the level of intermittent renewables on the system and it’s causing us to think differently about grid stability,” she said. “Projects like this are designed to help Nova Scotia Power and other utilities increase renewable energy penetration while ensuring grid stability and reliable service to our customers.”
Amherst and Nova Scotia Power are good partners, Hutt said, because both are forward-thinking when it comes to reducing greenhouse gases and exploring new sources of energy that lessen the province’s reliance on fossil fuels as a source of energy.
The large wind farm on the outskirts of town is just an example of the area’s commitment to renewable energy, she said.
“They are so enthusiastic about being part of this project,” Hutt said. “We’re excited to work with Amherst to install state of the art utility-scale generation, solar generation, battery storage and network intelligence systems.”
The information collected will help Nova Scotia Power make smarter decisions about its energy usage and energy storage will allow the corporation to harness intermittent renewables — like solar power — and release it to the grid when it’s needed most. The result, she said, is better reliability.
Amherst Mayor David Kogon said he hopes the project showcases the community.
“We believe this project will pave the way for other communities to achieve the same goal of becoming more environmentally-friendly,” the mayor said. “Ultimately this is going to increase our use of renewable energy, which is going to make electricity cheaper in years to come while reducing our carbon footprint and the impact we’re having on the environment.”
“The ESP (energy system platform) will enable data analytics, ensure connectivity, provide tools for developers to create customer-focused applications and services, and use peer-to-peer technology to enable secure energy trading. The platform will also optimize the overall electrical grid and reduce the cost of transitioning to a greener future not only in Canada but also throughout the globe,” Siemens Canada president and CEO Faisal Kazi said in a news release.
Jordan said government’s investment in clean technologies, like the Siemens’ project, means more benefits for families in Atlantic Canada.
“This project is creating new well-paying jobs, helping Maritimers save money on the future energy bills and protecting our environment,” she said.
The government investment, Jordan said, will benefit Canadians through increased collaboration among partners and post-secondary students, greater gender diversity in the workforce, more intellectual property produced in Canada and more engagement with Indigenous communities in the clean energy sector.