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Shediac solar farm nearing completion

The solar farm will pump out 1.63 megawatts of electricity and would be the largest solar farm in the province. (NB Power/Vimeo - image credit)
The solar farm will pump out 1.63 megawatts of electricity and would be the largest solar farm in the province. (NB Power/Vimeo - image credit)

N.B. Power is aiming to have its new solar farm near Shediac online by the end of the year.

The solar farm will pump out 1.63 megawatts of electricity and would be the largest solar farm in the province.

Brent Staeben, the utility's smart grid director , said the final pieces are in place at the farm.

"We expect it to be [online] in the next few weeks, probably towards the end of November," said Staeben.

The utility said the solar farm would be directly connected to two buildings in Shediac, the Shediac Multipurpose Centre and the Government of Canada Pension Centre.

When connected they would be the first net-zero commercial buildings in the province.

Ongoing project

The farm is part of a smart grid project that has been underway in the town since 2014.

The project was prompted by an ice storm in 2014 which cut off power in the town for days.

In its eight years of existence, the project has also seen the installation of other technology, like smart metres, that give the utility more information about energy use in the town.

Staeben said that information will be important when it comes to making sure the grid is stable.

He said some winter days can see the province use three times as much electricity as on summer days, so helping people understand when best to use energy is important.

"We're trying to figure out ways where we can put these new technologies in place and people can use these technologies, be incented to use them in different ways so that they don't sacrifice any convenience or comfort and yet have the opportunity to save as well on their energy bills," said Staeben.

Award winning

The town is getting some recognition as a growing smart energy hub.

Earlier this month, Shediac received the Jean-Jacques Roy Award for Excellence in Municipal Innovation from the Francophone Association of New Brunswick Municipalities.

In a statement posted on the town's Facebook page, Mayor Roger Caissie said the need for the project continues to grow.

"These types of innovations have taken on more urgency as storms such as Dorian and, more recently, Fiona have plunged our area into darkness," said Caissie.

"With climate change affecting seaside communities more and more, we need to do what we can in order to diversify the ways in which we generate electricity."

Saeben said the project was supposed to wrap up in March 2023, but with COVID-related delays, he expects it will be finished by the end of 2023.