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NYPA Deploys Sensors to Improve Situational Awareness

Dec. 4, 2019
The sensor program marks the next step in the NYPA's digital utility strategy.

The New York Power Authority is reaching design completion of its statewide sensor deployment program, allowing site installations to commence. The multi-phase program is installing hundreds of sensors on generation, substation and switchyard assets across the state to closely monitor the health and performance of NYPA’s statewide power generation and transmission network. The program will help drive efficiencies, lower operating costs and is a key part of NYPA’s efforts to become the first fully-digital utility in the country and deliver against Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s clean energy agenda.

“The sensor deployment program is deploying the latest sensor technologies to ensure our generation and transmission system continues to function optimally as energy markets become more dynamic,” says Gil C. Quiniones, president and CEO of NYPA. “The project supports our goal of becoming the nation’s first end-to-end digital utility by providing thousands of new data points across our system into our centralized integrated smart operations center.”

Once installed, these sensors will make more than 100,000 data points available to NYPA staff and its Integrated Smart Operations Center (iSOC), NYPA’s digital monitoring center — boosting operational efficiency, resiliency and reliability.

The nearly $100 million program is broken down into several phases. Phase one, completed in 2018, networked existing sensors to add 20,000 new data points to the 26,000 already monitored by the iSOC. Phase two of the program is currently underway and will ultimately add more than 100,000 data points through the installation of new sensors on assets across the state. Existing sensors capture asset data such as temperature, power loads, vibrations, pressure, emissions, moisture.  Phase two will add more of these same sensors, plus additional measures that monitor breaker contact wear, contact timing, current leakage, partial discharge, fluid leak detection and battery bank performance.

The majority of phase two of the program reached design completion in October 2019 — a major program milestone. In July 2019, NYPA began preliminary construction activities at the sites while the design was still underway. These preliminary efforts, like the installation of electrical conduits and cabinets, laid the groundwork for the full set of construction and sensor installation activities.

The program is being executed using a design-build approach, which means the same vendor — EJ O’Connell Sensor Deployment, a Joint Venture of EJ Electric of Long Island City and O’Connell Electric of Victor, New York— provides both design and construction services. This has enhanced program collaboration and efficiency by enabling the joint venture to order necessary equipment — like sensors, wiring and electrical cabinets — while the design process was still underway.

“The design-build approach offers NYPA more flexibility compared to a traditional design-bid-build approach,” says Kenneth Kristensen, PE, program director at NYPA. “As we reach design completion, the contractor is already in possession of the materials and equipment needed for construction, and is ready to start right away.”

For safety reasons, most sensors can only be installed if there is a planned outage for a particular piece of equipment, however, due to forward-thinking planning the phase two construction work is expected to be complete by June 2020.

NYPA owns and operates approximately one‑third of New York’s high‑voltage power lines. These lines transmit power from NYPA’s three large hydroelectric generation facilities and wind power generation facilities, connecting nearly 7,000 MW of renewable energy to New York State’s power grid. This includes connecting more than 6,200 megawatts of hydroelectric power and about 700 megawatts, or more than a third, of New York State‑generated wind energy to the grid.

NYPA’s suite of sensors will ultimately feed key data back to advanced analytics platforms, supporting NYPA’s continual drive to meet rigorous ISO 55001 asset management standards through data-driven decision making, long-term planning and improved situational awareness. Additionally, by having access to useful data when it’s needed, NYPA staff can better utilize an “asset savvy” mindset by approaching problems in new and innovative ways.

NYPA’s sensor deployment program is a key component of NYPA’s Smart Generation & Transmission and Asset Management strategic initiatives.

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