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ABB Digitalizes Critical Substation in New York City to Improve Power Supply

Source: 3/14/2017, Location: North America

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ABB has completed a major upgrade of a key substation in New York City, where several conventional pieces of power equipment have been replaced with digitally-enabled technology, in collaboration with leading energy utility Con Edison. The bulk power substation, among the largest of its kind in the US, supplies electricity to hundreds of thousands of customers in lower Manhattan.

The area suffered significant flood damage from the saltwater storm surge of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, resulting in widespread power outages. Con Edison has since invested heavily to safeguard its power infrastructure, including the protection of substations by reinforcing perimeter walls, gates and floodwalls.

A new elevated design with a modular 420 kilovolts (kV) Plug and Switch System (PASS) hybrid switchgear is installed more than 35 feet (10 meters) above the original substation level, to further help avoid the normal path of super storms. The innovative PASS enables a 50 percent space saving and incorporates a special rotating bushings feature that enables easy transportation and fast onsite installation. These storm protection measures and grid resiliency features are expected to improve power reliability and mitigate outages. As part of the latest digital upgrade by ABB, some 80 percent of the copper control cabling has been rendered obsolete and has been replaced by a few fiber optic cables.

“The digital transformation of this critical substation and additional weather-fortification measures will bring greater grid resiliency and improve reliability of power supplies to Manhattan’s consumers”, said Claudio Facchin, President of ABB’s Power Grids division. “Enabling digitalization of the power grid is a core element of our Next Level strategy and we are committed to supporting our customers with the latest technologies to facilitate this effort.”

Con Edison’s adherence to IEC 61850-based open communication standards now makes it possible to interconnect a very large system with a multi-vendor installation base. This also enables extraction of critical asset data and mining of business intelligence to make faster decisions in a crisis. Equally importantly, it facilitates a shift from traditional time-based maintenance to condition-based maintenance.

“We had to take great care in switching over from multiple layers of legacy control systems, some of which had been compromised by Hurricane Sandy’s floodwaters, to the new automated system. Our engineers maintained an ongoing dialog with ABB’s team throughout the design, testing and installation stages,” said Sanjay Bose, Con Edison’s Vice President of Central Engineering. “Collectively, with great attention to detail, we were able to put phase one into service on schedule, within budget, without accident or injury.”

Con Edison is a subsidiary of Consolidated Edison, Inc. one of the largest investor-owned energy companies in the US, with approximately $13 billion in annual revenues and $47 billion in assets. The utility provides electric, gas and steam service to more than three million customers in New York City and Westchester County, N.Y.

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