Blazing a Trail Toward the Energy Grid of the Future

A leading-edge operations center opens in New York

The New York Power Authority (NYPA) has taken a huge step forward in increasing the efficiency of its operations with the opening of its new Integrated Smart Operations Center (iSOC), which harnesses the capabilities of state-of-the-art digitization technologies. The center, located in White Plains, N.Y., was officially opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on December 11 (Figure 1), after only five months of construction. The iSOC is an important milestone in New York Governor Cuomo’s ambitious Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) strategy and positions NYPA to become the first end-to-end digital public utility in the U.S.

1. John Koelmel, chairman of NYPA, cuts the ribbon at the iSOC opening on December 11, 2017, [pictured left to right are: Bill Ruh (CEO, GE Digital), Richard Kauffman (Chairman of Energy and Finance, New York State) Gil Quiniones (President and CEO, NYPA), John Koelmel (Chairman, NYPA), John McAvoy (Chairman and CEO, Consolidated Edison), Bruce Walker (U.S. Dept. of Energy), and Arshad Mansoor (Senior Vice President R&D, EPRI)]. Source: POWER/Dorothy Lozowski

During presentations preceding the ribbon-cutting, NYPA’s President and CEO Gil Quiniones explained how digitization is enabling the trends toward decentralization and electrification in the power industry (Figure 2). During a tour of the modern office space that incorporates more than 10 miles of data cabling, Quiniones pointed out that this was the first time that representatives from an array of key groups, including strategic planning, cyber and physical security, customer representatives and more, were housed in the same physical location.

2. Gil Quiniones, president and CEO of NYPA, cites three trends in the power industry: decentralization, electrification, and digitization. Source: POWER/Dorothy Lozowski

At the heart of the iSOC is the collection of data from more that 24,000 sensors that monitor all of NYPA’s generation and transmission assets. The data are displayed, in real time, on screens that cover an impressive-looking 81-ft video wall (Figure 3).

3. An 81-ft video wall displays data, in real time, at iSOC. Source: POWER/Dorothy Lozowski

Within the iSOC is the Advanced Grid Innovation Lab for Energy (AGILe), which can model the entire utility grid and allow simulations to be run, for example to learn where there are needs to strengthen the grid. This can be particularly useful as New York gains momentum in the use of renewable energy sources. The AGILe initiative is expected to foster collaboration among academia, the government, and the private sector for research development of smart-grid technology, and further positions New York as a leader in electric-grid research.

Predictive analytics software from GE Digital monitors NYPA’s operations and forecasts potential equipment failures and outages. Sanjay Chopra, global leader—energy practice, Presales Solution Architects for GE Digital, and Reginald Acloque, vice president of Global Services—Energy for GE Digital, explained in an interview with POWER that the NYPA system is unique in that it monitors not just power generation, but also transmission. The system was initially implemented about a year ago and quickly progressed to incorporate all NYPA assets. Acloque attributes the quick progression to the fact that everyone on the team was “completely on board” with the vision.

Richard Gaines, the director of iSOC, explained in an interview with POWER that a key consideration in the development of the new center was for the platform to be scalable. The system in use has no limit to the data it can handle. The system can identify anomalies and can alert personnel well before a potential failure. Communications are built in so that key persons can be alerted at any time. NYPA is in the forefront of technology by incorporating asset health, cybersecurity, and its entire network into one system.

As Quiniones said during the opening day tour, the iSOC is the beginning of the energy grid of the future.

Dorothy Lozowski is POWER’s editorial director.