N. Y. Power Authority Ready For Summer Power Demand Season:  Works With Major NYC Government Customers on Peak Load Management Program

Michael Saltzman

June 23, 2010


MANHATTAN—With the onset of summer and the peak cooling season, New York Power Authority (NYPA) President and CEO Richard M. Kessel was joined today by representatives from Hunter College, the New York City Department of Education, New York City Department of Parks & Recreation and other city agencies to raise awareness about measures to conserve energy, save taxpayer money and be prepared to meet the heightened electricity demand that accompanies hot weather and extended heat waves.

As the electricity supplier for 115 government entities in New York City and Westchester County, NYPA has undertaken numerous measures to prepare for the summer season, including the activation today of a power demand response program, known as Peak Load Management, for encouraging reduced electricity use on the hottest days of summer.  Other initiatives NYPA has undertaken around the state include carrying out maintenance on generation and transmission facilities prior to the summer; an upgrade of a peak-demand hydroelectric facility in the Northern Catskills; and operator training to reinforce summer preparedness, including storm-related restoration procedures or in the unlikely event of power supply shortages or disruptions. 

“We’re entering that time of year when demand for power is greatest as air-conditioners increase overall usage,” Kessel said. “The New York Power Authority has taken the steps necessary for ensuring that we’re prepared to meet the challenges of the summer when the gap between demand for power and available generating supplies narrows the most, and generating and transmission facilities are most heavily utilized. The responsible and cautionary measures that we undertake also include initiatives for reducing the electricity use of some of our largest customers in New York City by paying them for each kilowatt they save during heat waves. That can also contribute to reducing overall market electricity costs.

“It’s also a good time for electricity consumers—commercial, residential and governmental—to double check summer conservation and long-term energy efficiency methods to better utilize our energy resources wisely and lower bills,” said Kessel.    

NYPA’s power demand response efforts center on a highly successful partnership with some of its largest government and business customers to reduce their electricity usage during the summer days of highest demand or in emergency conditions when the gap between available supplies and demand can narrow. The efforts, which include statewide programs by the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO), involve commitments by the NYPA customers to reduce electricity use by more than 280 mw, if called upon.  (The NYISO is a not-for-profit corporation responsible for operating the state’s bulk electricity grid.)   

In New York City, the Power Authority sponsors the Peak Load Management (PLM) Program. Participants in the Peak Reduction option of the program, which can be activated up to 15 weekdays from June 1 to September 30, include the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the New York City Police Department, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, the New York City Department of Education, the City University of New York and the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. Among the other NYPA customers in the program are The New York Times, the Bank of New York and Citigroup, which commit to reduce their load in emergency situations. 

The energy-saving measures undertaken by the PLM participants at approximately 100 locations in the city include shutting off nonessential lighting and discretionary equipment, limiting the cooling of buildings, and use of small, properly permitted, on-site generators. 

The summer peak-load reduction programs are in addition to the energy efficiency and clean energy initiatives that NYPA undertakes year-round in partnership with public facilities throughout the state, with the Authority financing approximately $144 million in such initiatives last year alone for a new one-year record for the state public power utility.

The initiatives, which NYPA has spearheaded over the last two decades at more than 3,300 public facilities, range from new energy efficient lighting and heating ventilating and air-conditioning systems to fuel cells and solar installations off of the power grid.  The improvements have lowered peak electricity use by more than 230 mw, eliminated approximately 785,000 tons of greenhouse gases annually and lowered electricity bills by more than $120 million a year.  

In preparation for the summer, the Power Authority has also taken steps to ensure that its generation and transmission assets are ready to meet the anticipated summer demand.

The Power Authority’s hydroelectric and clean natural gas generating facilities in upstate and downstate regions combine for more than 5,500 megawatts (mw) of power, with the Authority meeting  approximately one-quarter of New York State’s electricity needs from its power generation and purchases of economical power from other suppliers.  (One megawatt is enough electricity for serving approximately 800 to 1,000 typical homes.) 

NYPA’s power lines, which account for about one-third of the state’s high-voltage transmission system, extend from its hydroelectric projects on the St. Lawrence and Niagara Rivers, the Blenheim-Gilboa (B-G) Pumped Storage Power Project in the Northern Catskills and the Frederick R. Clark Energy Center, near Utica, which coordinates the flow of electricity from the Authority’s 17 generating facilities around the state.

As part of the measures for ensuring the reliability of the generating and transmission facilities, the Power Authority earlier this month completed aerial inspections of its 1,400-circuit-miles of transmission lines.

At the B-G project, NYPA only last month completed a multiyear, $135-million Life Extension and Modernization program that will contribute to the Authority’s systemwide summer preparedness. The completion of the last of four pump-turbine generating units to undergo refurbishing will ensure that the 37-year-old facility, which generates power by moving water between lower and upper reservoirs, is at full capacity this summer and in top performance condition.  The newly designed turbines, together with other new and refurbished components, allow each of the generators to produce more power from the same amount of water. The capacity of each generator has been increased by approximately 30 mw, with B-G now capable of producing approximately 1,160 mw of electricity.

The measures the Power Authority has undertaken in support of its generating and transmission facilities include work now underway at its Richard M. Flynn Power Plant, a nearly 135-mw natural gas facility in Holtsville, Suffolk County, which has experienced recent problems with its combustion turbine-generator rotor. The facility, which uses a combined-cycle technology to power two generators with one fuel supply, is expected to be returned to service by mid-August following the rotor repairs. NYPA has notified the NYISO, which is in charge of the dispatch of electric power generators in the state.

NYPA took the Flynn plant out of service on May 7 following indications that the rotor—a spinning part of the combustion-turbine generator—was not operating as designed.  NYPA shut down the facility to prevent the problem from worsening and to limit the time the plant would need to be out of service. 

The Flynn plant is used primarily by the Long Island Power Authority to meet its power supply needs.

NYPA also helps Long Islanders meet their electricity needs from a small natural gas facility in Brentwood in the Town of Islip and the operation of NYPA’s Long Island Sound Cable Project.  The 26-mile cable, with an eight-mile underwater crossing of the Sound, extends from Consolidated Edison’s Sprain Brook Substation in Yonkers to LIPA’s East Garden City Substation in Hempstead. The line can carry up to 675 mw of economical power, or the equivalent output of a large power plant.


About NYPA:

■ The New York Power Authority uses no tax money or state credit. It finances its operations through the sale of bonds and revenues earned in large part through sales of electricity. ■ NYPA is a leader in promoting energy efficiency, new energy technologies and electric transportation initiatives. ■ It is the nation's largest state public power organization, with 17 generating facilities in various parts of New York State and more than 1,400 circuit-miles of transmission lines. ■ Approximately 80 percent of the electricity it produces is clean renewable hydropower.  Its lower-cost power production and electricity purchases support hundreds of thousands of jobs throughout the state. ■For more information, www.nypa.gov.


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