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Canadian Power Generation and Electrical Infrastructure

Canadian Power Grid

Map of Canada
The Western grid, Eastern grid, and Quebec grid (including Atlantic Canada) comprise the power grid layout for Canada. The power lines run in a north-south configuration. This layout was adopted to allow electrical sales to the United states. 

Canada is divided into individual provinces. Each province generates its own electricity which is divided into one or more suppliers. Below is a list of the provinces and basic supply information:
  • Alberta - TransAlta, ENMAX and Capital Power Corporation supply power by means use of fossil fuels (coal and natural gas)
  • British Columbia - BC Hydro supplies power by use of dams on rivers such as the Columbia and Kootenay
  • Manitoba - Manitoba Hydro supplies power by use of dams on rives such as the Nelson, Saskatchewan, Laurie and Winnipeg
  • New Brunswick - Features a true sampling of power generation including fossil fuel, hydroelectric and nuclear power generation plants
  • Newfoundland and Labrador - Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro utilizes hydroelectric generation and is supplemented by Holyrood Thermal Generating Station
  • Nova Scotia - Nova Scotia power provides power by thermal fire plants using a mixture of coal, petroleum coke, fuel oil and natural gas
  • Ontario - Utilizes nuclear power, hydroelectric power, natural gas, wind, solar and bio-mass power generation plants
  • Prince Edward Island - Imports majority of power from New Brunswick. Maritime Electric and Fortis operate diesel plants used during emergencies
  • Quebec - Hydro-Quebec contributes one third of all power in Canada by use of hydroelectric plants
  • Saskatchewan - SaskPower supplies electricity by use of coal-fired plants
  • Yukon - Yukon Energy Corporation supplies power by use of hydroelectricity generating plants supplemented by wind turbines and diesel generators
  • Northwest Territories - Not connected to the US power grid. Power is generated by diesel generating plants
  • Nunavut - Quilag Energy Corporation operates 27 diesel-powered generators to supply grid power
The Canadian grid is integrated into the U.S. grid. This integration allows Canada to be a major electrical supplier to the New England states, New York, California, Upper Mid-West, and Pacific North West states.  There are over 35 electric tramssion interconnections between the US and Canadian systems. Find more details on the North American Grid and these conenctions at the Canadian Electricity Association website.

Methods of Power Generation 

New Brunswick Dam and Generating Station
Canada is a world leader in the use of clean energy sources. Hydro, wind, solar, and biomass accounted for more than 65% of Canada's total electricity generation in 2015. All jurisdictions have a goal of reducing existing coal-based generating plants. These plants are targeted to be replaced with gas and renewable energy plants.

With the exception of solar power, electricity is produced by a prime mover turning an alternator/generator. Natural gas plants use a gas turbine to spin the generator, diesel plants use diesel engines to spin the generator, and hydroelectric plants use water to spin the turbines.  Fossil fuel plants using coal and biomass plants work on a slightly different process. Fuel is used to heat water in boilers producing super-heated steam. This steam drive turbines that spin the generator. Fuel provides indirect power to the generator system. The loss of fuel causes the loss of steam which drives the turbine. 

Residential and Industrial Voltages

Once electricity is generated, it is routed through step-up transformers. These transformers raise the voltage, so it can be transported via high-voltage lines. The high voltage is then routed to residential, local, or industrial sub-stations. Transformers in the sub-station step down the voltage for the application. Both Canada and the United States use 120 volts 60 Hz power. Power from the local sub-station is routed to step-down transformers on electric poles, then into the residence.

The primary difference between U.S. and Canadian industry is three-phase equipment motor supply voltages. A common voltage in American industry is 480 VAC 3-phase. The more common voltage in Canada is 600 VAC 3-phase. In both cases, voltage that is supplied to an industrial faciliity is determined by the sub-station transformer. Provinces with industrial facilities will have greater high voltage needs than those that are remote and dependent on diesel generation for power. To view some common voltages in the US and Canada see this FAQ from Schneider Electric

Canada and US Are Partners in the Trade of ElectricityKohler Emergency Generator Shipped to Canada

Canada and the US share a physical border as well as act as key trade partners for oil, natural gas, and electricity.  Acccording to the National Energy Board, Canada exported the 2nd highest level of electricty to the US in 2017 with 72.1 Terrawatt hours (TW.h) view the NEB report of Electricity Trade. With the vast expanses of hydroelectric power they only imported 9.9 terrawatt  hours intoto Canada in 2017.   .

Emergency Generator Power in Canada

Both Canada and the United States share the same need for backup or emergency power. Freezing rain, sleet storms, high winds, and extreme heat or cold snaps overloading equipment and often causes power outages. Diesel or natural gas standby generators are an excellent insurance policy for most business and government organizations during and after a power outage. 

We regularly ship generators to customers in Canada. The picture to thre right of a Kohler generator is one recent example. Generator Source has been in the generator business for over 35 years. We have supplied generators to the health care industry, oil and gas drilling, mining industry and major data centers to name a few. We offer a complete line of low-hour, fuly tested pre-owned generators. All generators pass a 31-point inspection and are ready for installation. Contact Us with any questions. 





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