Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick
Legislative Committees
Home | Franšais

NB Power LogoÉnergie NB Power


NB Power - Technology

Background

Technology Initiatives

Information Systems Infrastructure

Changing Software Deployment

Advanced Communications

Residential Load Research Program

Leading Edge Operating Technologies


Background

NB Power has a long-standing tradition of using innovation and technological advances to achieve improvements in its operations. The use of advanced technology has been evident over the past decades from the world class construction and management of generation facilities to the implementation of a highly sophisticated energy management system to control the transmission and distribution of energy. Information systems have also been an important building block in the Corporation's use of technology. Advanced software applications have been deployed in key operating areas of the Corporation to assist employees in managing, providing and maintaining the required levels of service.

NB Power is now in the fourth year of its major system renewal. The implementation of a client/server computing environment commenced in 1994. To facilitate this initiative, the Corporation outsourced the network management function. This allowed major systems redeployment to begin without any additional hiring and ensured that state-of-the-art support was available to the Corporation.


Technology Initiatives

A number of other major initiatives have been undertaken recently that are furthering the Corporation's long-term systems objectives. These include:

  • development and implementation of two new software applications, work planner assistant (an expert system) and timekeeping, has been completed;
  • implementation of a new human resource system is in process;
  • evaluation of training needs and technical skills and a substantial training effort has been undertaken to upgrade the technical skills within the Business Information Systems Division and throughout the Corporation;
  • implementation of management information, performance targets, and data analysis for the Customer Services Division has commenced;
  • standardization of software products throughout the Corporation has been completed.

The pace of change in information technology has increased dramatically over the past four years. Accordingly, business plans related to technology management must be reviewed regularly to ensure they continue to represent the most appropriate strategies.

As a result, a plan has been developed which establishes the objectives and planned initiatives of the Business Information Systems Division over the next five years. This plan recognizes that a fundamental change of activities and business processes is necessary before new software applications are implemented. Details on the contents of this plan are contained in the Focused Business Plans - Technology Management section of this document.


Information Systems Infrastructure

NB Power operates three distinct systems environments: mainframe, minicomputer, and client/server. The technological platform used at NB Power is clearly migrating from the mainframe and minicomputer environment to a client/server environment. Each environment employs different computing and communications technologies:

  • The IBM mainframe computer is most usefully employed in the batch processing environment. NB Power's mainframe operations were outsourced in 1991, but remain connected to the Corporation's minicomputer environment. NB Power currently runs customer billing and accounting applications on the mainframe.
  • VAX minicomputers run most of NB Power's on-line operations. Using VAX machines, NB Power developed a series of on-line systems in the 1980s, including Customer Information, Materials Management, Plant Maintenance, Work Planning and Service Restoration.
  • Client/server architecture is in the process of being deployed. This technology will allow end-users to develop and utilize their own solutions to information processing problems.

At present, Local Area Networks (LANs) have been installed in almost all locations throughout the Corporation. Over 1,000 microcomputers have been installed and connected to the existing LANs.


Changing Software Deployment

Accompanying the migration to client/server architecture is a move toward purchased software, away from in-house developed software. This is expected to minimize development costs as well as ongoing maintenance costs and will facilitate re-engineering efforts. The Corporation has also established a software standard for end-user computing that will allow employees to analyze data more efficiently and communicate more effectively with each other. Further, this strategy will minimize ongoing training costs, facilitate the cross training of employees, and support the deployment of an Executive Information System.

During 1995 NB Power embarked on a major software deployment initiative with Systems Applications and Products in Data Processing (SAP). SAP, a world-leading German-based software application firm, was retained to assist NB Power with integrating its financial management, inventory and purchasing activities. Beginning in March 1995, a Corporate project team has been working with SAP consultants to transform NB Power's older, mainframe-based technologies into a single, integrated suite of computer applications.


Advanced Communications

NB Power uses advanced networks to meet its requirements. Data is transmitted using public networks and sophisticated software to connect the hundreds of PCs employed through the numerous LANs installed within the Corporation.

Another communication system is in place to control and measure the transmission and distribution of power throughout the province. This is a microwave-based system owned and operated by NB Power and utilized for two primary purposes:

  • to facilitate telecommunications between plants and terminals for protection purposes;
  • to control and communicate with remote terminals and switches for the purpose of measuring voltages and controlling switches in the event of emergency.

This communications system is a significant enhancement to the safe operation of the transmission and distribution system at NB Power.


Residential Load Research Program

In the fall of 1993, NB Power developed a Residential Load Research Program designed to monitor energy usage at a number of sites throughout the province. Data has been successfully gathered through this program to study rate design alternatives and cost of service issues. The program tracks consumption by time of day thereby allowing further research into the potential for time of day billing as a means of reducing peak residential energy usage. Other DSM options are also expected to be evaluated using load research results.


Leading Edge Operating Technologies

NB Power has employed innovative operations technologies throughout the Corporation to ensure that the cost of electricity is minimized in the long term. Examples of this are evident in all areas of the organization. Perhaps the most recent illustration of this is the conversion of the Dalhousie generating station to burn Orimulsion® rather than other more expensive fossil fuels. Dalhousie is the first commercial demonstration application of Orimulsion® in the world. The full plant conversion to Orimulsion® provides NB Power with a further diversification of its energy mix thereby protecting the Corporation from fluctuations in fuel prices.



Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick
Email | Contacts |
Disclaimer