Yesterday I pointed you at the New Brunswick System Operator page that shows real-time information about how much energy Prince Edward Island is pulling from (or sending to) New Brunswick.
While it’s great that this information is made available to the public, when information is locked inside a static web page like this it makes it hard to use it elsewhere, like to make graphs and other visualizations, or to see historical data. Things like this:
To work around this, I wrote some code (available here for you to look at and build upon) that would take that data and make it available in formats that are suitable for reuse elsewhere. Using my code you can get the NBSO data as XML, JSON, or in a format suitable for feeding to Pachube.
Pachube is a sort of clearinghouse for digital data like this, and when you send data to Pachube you have the benefit of being able to use tools that others have built to visualize the data. Like the graph above, which comes, live, from Pachube, so it’s always up to date. Or through widgets like this, also from Pachube:
What this data tells us is how much energy is coming over the cable from New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island. Or, when the wind is blowing and demand here on the Island is low, how much energy we’re sending to New Brunswick.
The “peak demand” for electricity on Prince Edward Island, we learn here from the province, is 220 megawatts. That’s the theoretical maximum amount of energy we’ll all use at any given time. So you can consider the number on the graph and widget above as being, in a sense, “out of 220.” Although obviously it’s not really that, because the peak demand only happens rarely.
Although it doesn’t tell us everything we need to know to built a “smart grid,” this data is likely enough to use as a good starting point. Let’s say you want to do some energy-intensive activity, and you want to have a greater chance that it’s powered by wind energy: just watch the number on Pachube until it turns “negative” – a sign that we’re sending energy to New Brunswick because we have a surplus and are meeting all of PEI’s energy needs from wind – and use that as a trigger.