NB Power Generating Capacity

Net Electrical Power Generating Capacity in New Brunswick

Data supplied June 2020 by Marc Belliveau, Communications, NB Power. NB Power is the public utility in the province owned by New Brunswickers.

Q: What is the mean daily demand for electricity in megawatts for the province of New Brunswick
A: 1600 MW

Q: What is the peak daily demand in megawatts (coldest days of the year) for the province of New Brunswick?
A: 3030 MW

Net Generating Capacity from NB Power and other sources (Table 1 and Table 2 below)
4,347.5 MW with Coleson Cove
3,375.5 MW without Coleson Cove

Table 1: Net generating capacity of stations owned and operated by NB Power

Table 2: Net generating capacity of privately-owned and operated stations

*38.5 MW represents the capacity contracted to NB Power.
**A cogeneration plant generates electricity and captures waste heat for heating and hot water, making the plant more than twice as efficient as conventional power stations, saving costs and reducing emissions. More info here.

Analysis: New Brunswickers should demand more renewable energy

Data from NB Power shows that the only renewable energy NB Power generates from the stations it owns and operates is from hydro (Table 1). Although NB Power also purchases electricity generated by privately-owned renewable energy facilities, we think NB Power’s claim that its present renewable energy supply represents 44% of its total net capacity may be optimistic.

Marc Belliveau, Communication Specialist at NB Power, provided the data for the two tables above in response to a request made for the Coalition for Responsible Energy Development-NB (CRED-NB).

Since hydroelectric stations owned by NB Power only produce 20.5% to 26.3% of NB Power’s total energy supply, with and without Coleson Cove respectively, where does the rest come from? We think that NB Power makes up most of the difference by purchasing electricity from privately-owned facilities: 4 wind farms, 1 hydroelectric station, and 4 biomass cogeneration plants (Table 2).

We calculate that NB Power’s total net renewable energy capacity from hydro, wind and biomass cogeneration is 1351.5 megawatts (MW). This is 31 to 40% of the total net generating capacity, with and without Coleson Cove.

We believe the other 4% probably comes from power purchases from private renewable energy sources of a few megawatts or less, which we didn’t request. However, since we calculated the 40% by excluding Coleson Cove, that operates during the coldest days of the year and thus contributes some energy to the grid, we think that the actual percentage of net renewable energy plus 4% likely falls somewhere between 35.1 and 44% and have concluded that 44% may be optimistic.

In addition, we have reservations about biomass as a sustainable source of renewable energy since we suspect the rate of deforestation in New Brunswick outstrips replanting and natural regeneration, calling into question the notion that burning biomass in this province is carbon-neutral.

The hydro stations NB Power owns (Table 1) were mainly built between the 1900s and the 1970s, so we think that their machinery is likely old and inefficient. Could NB Power conduct studies of each station in consultation with Indigenous, community and other stakeholders to determine which plants present the best prospects for refurbishment when cultural, environmental and economic factors are weighed? Replacing outdated, inefficient equipment with modern, efficient technology could potentially increase their power output significantly with no new environmental impacts.

New Brunswickers need to demand more renewable energy and energy efficiency from their government and NB Power. To free up time and money to invest in these safe, less expensive and readily-available choices, the utility and the government must abandon dangerous, costly plans to develop small modular nuclear reactors and plutonium-extraction technology. The health, prosperity and safety of present and future generations depends on it.