NYISO unveils $74MM Smart Grid initiative, breaks ground on new power control center

Source: New York Independent System Operator (NYISO)

Dozens of federal, state and local government officials and energy industry representatives, including US Sen. Charles Schumer and US Rep. Paul Tonko, were on hand as the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) unveiled details of a $74 million Smart Grid initiative, which is being supported by a US Department of Energy Smart Grid Investment Grant of more than $37 million.

In addition to announcing details of the new Smart Grid initiative, the NYISO also held a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the start of construction of its new $35.5 million primary power control center. The new facility is being built adjacent to the NYISO’s headquarters building in the city of Rensselaer, near Albany.

The 64,000-square-foot control center at the NYISO’s Krey Boulevard site will serve as the primary operational nerve center for the non-profit NYISO, which oversees New York’s bulk electricity grid and wholesale electricity markets. The new facility is being developed to replace the NYISO’s existing, 42-year-old Carman Road control center in the town of Guilderland in western Albany County. That facility’s systems will be upgraded, allowing the NYISO to meet the requirement of having a fully functional primary and backup control center.

“Today, we’re not just breaking ground on a state-of-the-art facility, we’re flipping on an economic light switch for the Capital Region,” said Senator Schumer. “This project is going to support hundreds of construction jobs, 20 new jobs when all is said and done, and will help update our energy grid to spur even more economic development across upstate New York. This is a great day for the Capital Region and the NYISO.”

Completion of the Smart Grid and control center projects will allow the NYISO to better fulfill its core mission of maintaining reliability of the state’s bulk power system and operating economically efficient wholesale markets. For example, the new control facility is designed to meet 21st century grid reliability requirements through the use of the latest control technologies and state-of-the-art visual displays designed to improve the NYISO’s ability to receive process and monitor changing conditions throughout the region.

“This groundbreaking marks the first step in building a new foundation for New York’s energy infrastructure that will lead us to incorporating Smart Grid technologies and renewable energy sources into our power delivery system,” said Congressman Paul Tonko. “The federal investment we see here today will create new jobs and improve the electric grid’s efficiency and reliability for all New Yorkers.”

In April 2011, the New York State Public Service Commission approved NYISO’s request to borrow up to $45 million to build its new control center and modernize the Guilderland facility.

“Our new control center will serve as a solid foundation for establishing a smarter, more reliable electric grid that is a key to the state’s economic future,” said Stephen G. Whitley, the NYISO’s president and CEO. “The project will help New York state achieve a number of key energy goals, including enabling the increased integration of renewable energy supplies, cultivating innovative energy storage technologies, addressing the growing complexity of modern electric grid operations and effectively implementing the broader regional markets initiative that will provide New York with approximately $190 million in annual savings.”

“Electricity is the lifeblood of the economy and these investments are at the heart of New York’s power grid. As we strive to make the grid smarter and the supply of power more reliable, we are sustaining and enhancing the economic health of the Empire State,” said Robert Hiney, chairman of the NYISO Board of Directors.

The NYISO’s control center construction and modernization initiative will require several hundred construction jobs and create more than 20 new permanent jobs. Construction of the new control center is expected to be completed in 2014, while the overhaul of the Guilderland facility is set to be finished by 2012.

The combination of the new control center and renovation of the existing Carman Road facility will ensure the NYISO’s compliance with the North American Electric Reliability Corporation’s proposed reliability standard that would require a fully redundant alternate control center.

Smart Grid Projects to Boost Energy Efficiency, Saving State Millions of Dollars

The NYISO has begun working with individual utilities around the state to implement the new $74 million Smart Grid initiative, which involves the installation of capacitor banks and phasor measurement units (PMUs) on the bulk transmission system throughout the state.

The capacitor banks will improve the efficiency of the state’s bulk transmission system by reducing the amount of electricity that is lost when carried over long distances on the bulk transmission system, thus saving the state approximately $9 million per year. The installation of PMUs and integration of the data provided will improve grid operators’ visualization capabilities and situational awareness. Eventually, the NYISO’s PMU network will connect with PMU networks in New England, the mid-Atlantic, the Midwest and Ontario, Canada, to create a broader situational awareness throughout the Eastern Interconnection Planning Collaborative, a coalition of 24 transmission planning authorities in the eastern United States and Canada. The PMU initiative may help to avoid future disturbances like the 2003 Northeast regional blackout.

New York’s bulk electricity grid, consisting of hundreds of generating units and thousands of miles of high-voltage transmission lines, requires the constant balancing of electricity supplies to meet consumer needs, on a moment-to-moment basis, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The NYISO-administered marketplace for wholesale electricity includes ongoing auctions that bring together buyers and sellers of energy and related products and services. Transactions in the NYISO’s wholesale electricity markets totaled roughly $6 billion in 2010.

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