Montreal Energy Tech Company Opening Office In Saint John

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SAINT JOHN– A smart energy tech company from Quebec will be opening a second office in Saint John.

Montreal-based CaSA will be opening an office in the city to start work on the development of the Integrated System Manager (ISM) for Saint John Energy’s new smart grid project. After the project is completed, the company plans to keep an office in the city permanently.

Earlier this year, Saint John Energy received a $4.1-million investment from Natural Resources Canada’s Smart Grid Program to modernize Saint John’s electricity grid.

The ISM algorithm CaSa will help develop will utilize weather data, system data, and other information to make predictions about energy demand. The smart grid technology will help the utility reduce energy consumption and manage costs at peak times. It will also facilitate the introduction of renewable power sources including wind and solar to power the grid.

The ISM is a dynamic machine-learning algorithm that can predict energy demand – essentially the central nervous system

“The opportunity to work with a distributor like Saint John Energy was literally the best-case-scenario CaSA could have hoped for,” said CaSA CEO Martin Fassier in an interview with Huddle. “Meeting Saint John Energy and understanding their needs, that was perfect for us to move forward.”

CaSA’s Saint John operations will start with a field office, which will have four people working specifically on the Saint John Energy Project. Phase two, which will begin next year, will involve CaSA moving its client services operations to the city. The company plans to have 30 people based out of Saint John. The exact location of the office is still be ironed out, but will likely be uptown or on the west side.

Fassier said there are several reasons why CaSA plans to stay in Saint John.

“New Brunswick [has] a lot of the expertise that we’re looking for in terms of bilingualism, in terms of technical know-how and client-facing support. To us, it’s just a great opportunity to leverage,” he said.

“It’s a great town. It offers a lot of growth opportunities even in terms of real-estate and available workforce and it was an easy choice to make.”

Saint John Energy has had plans to get into the smart grid space for a while. But vice-president Ryan Mitchell said partnering with a company like CaSA will allow the utility to achieve their goals of reducing costs and becoming more sustainable, more quickly.

“We’re looking to reduce our costs, basically the costs we would pay NB Power as part of being a wholesale customer. The demand component in our expense budget represents about 30 per cent of our overall electricity expense, or over $26-million last year,” says Mitchell.

“We’ve done enough analysis to date to know there is a real opportunity in front of us in the space, but we don’t necessarily have the expertise in-house to do the development and the programming. CaSa has developed that expertise, so it allows us to more quickly realize that opportunity than trying to do it on our own.”

Fassier said not a lot of utilities in Canada are leveraging smart grid technology, so this project could help establish Saint John Energy as a leader in the space.

“The smart home space and the smart grid space have been around for quite some time now. There’s been a lot of circling around and observing and piloting…We are very pleased to see that companies like Saint John Energy are capable of organizing themselves, getting the political support of pushing forward and literally becoming leaders in the market,” he said.

“It’s literally a space where everybody is waiting for someone to show the way and I strongly believe this project we’re now working on will be that guiding light even the large utilities will be looking at.”