NYPA Press Release

New York Power Authority Announces Upgrade of Digital Communications for State-Owned Power System


Contact: Maura Balaban |  Maura.balaban@nypa.gov  | (914) 390-8171

Three-Year Improvement Program to Bolster Safety, Reliability of New York’s Public Power System


WHITE PLAINS – The New York Power Authority today announced a program to install new digital communication systems on its power lines to improve the efficiency and reliability of the statewide public electric power transmission system. The three-year, multi-phase Communications Backbone Program involves installation of fiber optic cables and other communications systems throughout the New York Power Authority’s 1,400 miles of transmission infrastructure and its 16 power generating facilities. 

“The Power Authority’s Communication Backbone Program is one piece of a comprehensive, overarching effort to create a digital utility for the next generation and also to be more responsive to dynamic conditions on our power lines,” said NYPA President and CEO Gil C. Quiniones. “This program will help ensure that our state’s power system is more efficient, responsive and reliable during day-to-day operations and that it is duly prepared for the next potential power emergency.”

Work is currently underway on transmission lines and substations in Northern New York. Upgrades concluded last month on a 32- mile stretch of transmission line from Gilboa in Schoharie County to New Scotland in Albany County. Improvements in other areas of the state will follow the NNY installation. The new robust communications system is helping to realize Governor Cuomo’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) strategy for building a cleaner, resilient and reliable energy system across New York.

The Power Authority Board of Trustees approved $19 million in funding for the program earlier this year to cover engineering and design plans as well as implementation for the first phases of the project, which included the use of helicopters to install fiber optic cables on transmission towers along the Gilboa to New Scotland route. The use of helicopters shortened the length of time the lines needed to be out of service to accommodate the work.

When the Communications Backbone Program is complete in 2020, the Power Authority will have a dedicated, robust, secure and scalable communication network connecting all NYPA facilities. The network will replace previous technology, increase the quantity and quality of information available on the Power Authority’s transmission and generation assets, and communicate potential equipment problems remotely. The program, which is estimated to cost approximately $39 million in total, will also lead to better analytics and improved operations and business decisions. In addition to anticipated savings from improved operational efficiency, the Power Authority expects an additional net savings of approximately $17 million over 20 years by moving away from commercial telecommunications providers.

State Senator and Senate Energy Committee Chair Joseph A. Griffo said, "Any step taken to improve the state’s transmission line network and energy infrastructure is a step in the right direction. Upstate generates an excess of clean and renewable energy, but that energy is often impeded by outdated transmission lines. This multi-year program will upgrade the state’s transmission system and infrastructure by replacing out-of-date communications technology and equipment with a more efficient, reliable and modernized network that will benefit all New Yorkers."

Assembly Member and Assembly Energy Committee Chair Amy R. Paulin said, “The Communications Backbone Program is an exciting step towards modernizing our State’s electrical system. The additional information that will be available as a result of the program will enable NYPA to more efficiently manage its transmission and generation, benefitting its customers and the electrical grid as a whole.”

In addition to replacing point-to-point communications circuits from commercial telecommunications providers with fiber optics, the program will also employ digital microwave systems as well as tie-ins to existing, dedicated fiber communication infrastructure.

The Communications Backbone Program is a foundational element in the Power Authority’s smart generation and transmission and asset management strategic initiatives and a critical component in NYPA’s ambition to become the first end-to-end digital utility in the United States.

View a video about the Communications Backbone project on NYPA’s YouTube page.

NYPA is the largest state public power organization in the nation, operating 16 generating facilities and more than 1,400 circuit-miles of transmission lines. More than 70 percent of the electricity NYPA produces is clean renewable hydropower. NYPA 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. For more information visit www.nypa.gov and follow us on Twitter @NYPAenergy, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and LinkedIn.

Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) is Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's strategy to lead on climate change and grow New York's economy. REV is building a cleaner, more resilient and affordable energy system for all New Yorkers by stimulating investment in clean technologies like solar, wind, and energy efficiency and generating 50 percent of the state's electricity needs from renewable energy by 2030. Already, REV has driven a nearly 800 percent growth in the statewide solar market, enabled over 105,000 low-income households to permanently cut their energy bills with energy efficiency, and created thousands of jobs in manufacturing, engineering, and other clean tech sectors. REV is ensuring New York State reduces statewide greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030 and achieves the internationally-recognized target of reducing emissions 80 percent by 2050. To learn more about REV, including the Governor's $5 billion investment in clean energy technology and innovation, please visit www.ny.gov/REV4NY and follow us at @Rev4NY