Marie City Council has tonight granted permission to PUC Services Inc. to proceed with a $32.8-million upgrade of the local electrical distribution system, subject to buy-in from higher levels of government.
"I'm really proud of this piece of work, and the number of people who participated in it," said Mayor Christian Provenzano of the community-wide smart-grid initiative, believed to be the first of its scale in Canada.
"This is a tremendous opportunity," said Ward 1 Councillor Steve Butland, generally recognized as council's green-energy advocate. "This brings the Internet to our electrical system."
Mayor Provenzano was especially effusive in his praise of retiring Councillor Butland for never giving up on the project, which at one point was rejected by the PUC board.
PUC Services Inc. is wholly owned by the City of Sault Ste. Marie and approval is required for any single PUC capital expenditure in excess of $5 million or any capital expenditure in aggregate in excess of $10 million.
In a straw vote, city councillors unanimously approved the $32.8 million smart grid project on the condition that at least $9 million in funding is received from the federal and provincial governments.
PUC officials are hopeful they'll actually get $14 million from higher levels of government.
Based on the informal show of support, Mayor Provenzano cast the single shareholder's vote necessary for engineering work to start on the project.
Rob Brewer, PUC president and chief executive officer, said the project's annual reduction of 2,804 tonnes of local carbon dioxide emissions will be equivalent to greenhouse gases produced by driving 600 passenger cars, or 6.9 million miles or by 420 homes.
Other advantages include decentralized generation and storage of electricity; minimizing the size and duration of power interruptions; and better voltage control, resulting in a four per cent energy savings.
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