Black & Veatch to Design, Build Canada’s First Electric ‘Smart Grid’

Nov. 1, 2021
Ontario project seeks to cut consumer energy costs, lower emissions and bolster electric grid’s resilience, reliability.

As the electric industry addresses growing demands for lower carbon footprints and heightened reliability and resilience, a Canadian community is entrusting Black & Veatch to transform its power system into a technology-driven, enhanced “smart grid” meant to lower consumer costs and slash greenhouse gas emissions.

Billed as the first such community-wide utility effort in Canada, the Sault Smart Grid project for PUC Distribution Inc. — the local electricity distribution utility in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario — includes Black & Veatch’s designing and deploying a state-of-the-art network with proven technologies that enhance reliability and efficiency, improve outage management and reduce energy consumption.

That more intuitive grid, expected to be completed by late 2022, positions PUC to accommodate new distributed energy resources (DERs) such as rooftop solar, battery storage, co-generation and electric vehicles (EVs) while supporting smart city and other community growth initiatives.

Once operational, the smart grid will offer two key components — voltage optimization and distribution automation. Voltage optimization constantly regulates a consumer’s electricity supply and gives them precisely the voltage they need, saving energy and lowering electric bills. Distribution automation essentially embeds intelligence into the system, using a network of sensors and controls that provide greater reliability, flexibility and agility. Those features enable the system’s “self-healing” during power disruptions, minimizing the size of the outage and the number of affected customers.

“As the energy sector evolves, with broader investments in decarbonation, reliability and resiliency, this comprehensive smart grid initiative represents the promise of lowering generation and distribution costs while propelling the community’s modernization,” said Gary Johnson, Black & Veatch’s regional director. “Sault Ste. Marie is leading the charge in Canada, and we’re confident other utilities, regions and communities will follow suit once they see the enormous benefits.”  

“With expectations that we’ll see more demand for electric vehicle hookups, rooftop solar energy and other new technology in the next decade, the Sault Smart Grid project smart grid system will help the city modernize and leap forward in meeting those challenges and opportunities,” added Kevin Bell, PUC’s vice-president. “We are excited about this project bringing our customers an energy system that is more reliable, resilient and responsive.”