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PUC smart grid project receives $11.8 million from feds

Two-year project will cut bills and improve outage situations, proponents say
The federal government is providing PUC Distribution Inc.'s smart grid project with $11.8 million in funding. MP Terry Sheehan says the funding will help create roughly 140 jobs locally. Left to right: Glenn Martin, CEO of Infrastructure Energy LLC, Mayor Christian Provenzano, PUC president and CEO Rob Brewer and Sault Ste. Marie MP Terry Sheehan. James Hopkin/SooToday

The federal government is kicking in $11.8 million in funding towards the PUC smart grid project - a project that its proponents say will reduce the frequency and duration of power outages while cutting the cost of power bills.

The two-year project, when complete, will be Canada’s first community-wide smart grid project.

“I was pleased to go out and advocate for them because it’s creating 140 jobs - middle class jobs - right away, but it also creates this beautiful piece of infrastructure that is going to allow the city to go after and diversify it economy by going after the clean-tech businesses such as electronics manufacturing, e-commerce-based businesses, IT businesses, data servers - the list goes on and on and on,” Sault Ste. Marie MP Terry Sheehan told SooToday. “It creates jobs, it fights pollution by meeting our climate change goals, and also makes the utility cheaper for both residents and also businesses, because it reduces the cost by making the system more reliable and less burdensome to look after.”

PUC president and CEO Rob Brewer says the public-private partnership between PUC Distribution Inc., private equity firm Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners and Infrastructure Energy LLC - a private, Los Angeles-based microgrid development firm headed by former Saultite Glen Martin - will allow PUC to tap into industry expertise.

The partnership will also help with financing, Brewer said.

“It allows us to finance it over a longer period of time, so that current rate payers aren’t paying for the benefit that future rate payers get,” Brewer told Sootoday following the funding announcement. “It spreads it out so that the cost of it is more accurately in line with where the benefit is, so that’s what this has enabled us to do, and for a utility like ours and for the people of Sault Ste. Marie, it’s a great approach.”

The $32.8 million smart grid project was approved by City Council in July 2018.  

- with files from David Helwig


James Hopkin

About the Author: James Hopkin

James Hopkin is a reporter for SooToday based in Sault Ste. Marie
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