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Published on October 31st, 2012 | by Silvio Marcacci


Is New York State Building The Smartest Grid In America?

October 31st, 2012 by  

A series of coordinated efforts by the federal government, state officials, and regional grid operators may soon make New York State’s electrical grid the smartest and cleanest in America.

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Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Energy Highway Blueprint is leading the charge. The comprehensive plan, announced in January, was officially delivered to Cuomo’s office this week. It targets adding 3.2 gigawatts (GW) of new clean energy generation and transmission capacity to the state’s grid via $5.7 billion in public-private investments.

This initiative comes fast on the heels of $2 million in NYSERDA energy storage technology funding, as well as a series of new tax credits for distributed solar photovoltaic installations across the state.


Blueprint for The Future

The Energy Highway Blueprint incorporates 130 responses from 85 entities comprising the state’s energy ecosystem — investor-owned utilities, transmission developers, and private investors — and the action plan is aggressive, to say the least:

  • $1.5 billion to modernize existing inefficient, high-emission power plants and create 750 megawatts (MW) of clean power generation
  • $1.3 billion to improve existing transmission and distribution infrastructure
  • $1 billion to build 1 GW of new transmission capacity
  • $1 billion to generate 1.2 GW of additional capacity to meet reliability needs caused by planned retirements of aging power plants
  • $250 million in new smart grid technologies including an advanced energy management control center
  • $250 million for new renewable energy projects, leveraging $425 million to create 270 MW of new power capacity

Smarter, More Efficient Transmission

While impressive, Cuomo’s initiative is not the only step being taken to upgrade the Empire State’s grid. New York is also implementing $75 million in smart grid upgrades backed by a $37 million U.S. Department of Energy grant. More than 800 connected synchrophasors and more than 230 capacitor banks are being installed with state utilities and the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO).

Both projects will boost the grid’s overall efficiency and provide an economic charge. “Electricity is the lifeblood of our state’s economy and the transmission grid is its circulatory system,” said Stephen Whitley, NYISO president and CEO.

Synchrophasors improve the ability of NYISO to monitor power flow and outages across the transmission system by sending signals to grid operators 60 times per second, as well as its ability to detect power outages before they cascade across the system. Capacitor banks are installed along the transmission system and boost the flow of electricity across power lines to reduce energy lost while traveling long distances – an estimated $7.6 million dollar cost per year.

NYISO-PJM Coordination

Taking a cue from elementary school, NYISO plans to share all this efficient clean power with its friends. NYISO and PJM Interconnection recently unveiled a long-term strategy to optimize the flow of electricity at seams, key connection points across their shared border – an important step, considering the two grids typically function as individual units.

NYISO and PJM will coordinate long-term transmission investments, smart grid improvements, data calculations and modeling to reduce congestion and costs, and regional natural gas generation and transmission investments.

Does Smarter Equal Stronger?

As communities build resiliency against climate change and extreme weather, self-healing and more efficient grids are only going to get more important to our economy and well-being. By investing in smart grid technology now, New York is putting itself on track to weather the storms of the future — all while boosting renewables and green jobs.

Image: New York State word cloud map image via Shutterstock

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About the Author

Silvio is Principal at Marcacci Communications, a full-service clean energy and climate policy public relations company based in Oakland, CA.

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