The municipally owned electric utility in Saint John, N.B. has garnered an international award for innovation in smart grid.

Saint John Energy’s smart grid, a cornerstone of its work to build the utility of the future, captured the attention of an international panel, which declared it the winner of the International Smart Grid Action Network Award of Excellence.

The prestigious award was presented to Saint John Energy earlier this month in a virtual ceremony from the Twelfth Clean Energy Ministerial Meeting, hosted by Chile. The global forum shares best practices, and promotes policies and programs supporting the transition to a global clean energy economy.

“When we started work on our smart grid project a few years ago, our vision was to ensure that our city had a modern and sustainable electrical grid – we certainly didn’t expect to be recognized internationally,” Ray Robinson, president and CEO of Saint John Energy, said in a news release.

“The fact that we have is a testament to the strong culture of innovation we’ve built at Saint John Energy and to the remarkable talent of our people and our many partners.”

Carl Ozkaynak, director of smart grid at Saint John Energy, says the $13.5 million project brings significant advancements in artificial intelligence to the city’s distribution system.

“When fully developed, it will analyze data ranging from historical energy demand to weather forecasts as it predicts and manages energy load across the city,” he said. “It brings the future of energy management to Saint John today.”

Ozkaynak said the smart grid will curb periods of peak energy demand, costly both to the utility and the environment. And, he said, it will usher more intelligent devices into customers’ homes, providing homeowners with opportunities to save energy and contribute to a greener environment.

The smart grid is also important as Saint John Energy works to bring renewable energy onto the grid, such as the Burchill Wind Project that is set to power about 15 per cent of the city with affordable clean energy once online by the end of next year.