When a blizzard dumped between two and three feet of snow in our service area in January 2016, more than 1,000 power outages were averted in Brooklyn and Queens because of $1 billion in upgrades to our infrastructure. The storm-hardening improvements began in 2013 after Superstorm Sandy and will continue through 2016. The infrastructure upgrades include “smart switches” installed along overhead wiring that has made our system more resilient by minimizing the number of customers impacted by falling power lines.
Our underground transmission system consists of 660 miles of 138 and 345 kilovolt feeders encased in steel pipe surrounded by high-pressure dielectric fluid (a non-toxic mineral oil). Approximately nine million gallons of dielectric fluid circulate through the system, cooling and insulating our feeders. The fluid moves through cooling plants at nominal pressures of 200 pounds per square inch. The conductors inside our steel pipes are wrapped in paper insulation.
Our leak-detection system is among the most sophisticated in the world:
To repair leaks, we excavate to uncover the feeder pipes and apply a mechanical clamp to stop the flow. Permanent repairs are complete when a concentric steel barrel is welded over the clamp and the pipe. To reduce leaks from our transmission feeders, we are accelerating repairs to the coating on our pipes.
From 2016–2018, we are investing more than $85 million to accelerate the refurbishment of anti-corrosion coatings on pipings at the rate of 6,000 trench feet per year. In 2015, we refurbished anti-corrosion coatings on pipings of approximately 3,000 trench feet. We’re also investing $1.5 million over the next three years in spill cleanups to restore the environment. We expect to make significant progress in research and development to reduce the potential for oil spills. And we’re investing in research and development that can replace existing feeders with solid dielectric cable that can be cooled with water instead of oil.
The New York Public Service Commission approved our five-year, nearly $1.3 billion project in early 2016 to install smart meters and advanced communication systems throughout New York City, Westchester County, and Orange and Rockland counties. It’s the biggest capital improvement project in our history. Starting in 2017, when the meters come to Westchester and Staten Island, customers will be in charge because they’ll know exactly how much energy they’re using. Smart meters will mean fewer estimated bills and instant turn-ons. This technology will allow us to use precisely the amount of energy we need and no more. That means customers will use less power, which will benefit the environment by reducing carbon emissions. The network will provide the capability to integrate sensors—that detect methane or stray voltage, otherwise known as contact voltage—to improve public safety. And lowering the voltage on the smart grid will lead to a potential savings in fuel costs of $40 million a year. By 2022, we’ll have nearly five million smart meters in service through an aggressive rollout plan that includes installing 5,000 meters a day.
Two standards for measuring the reliability of distribution service are the System Average Interruption Frequency Index (SAIFI) and the Customer Average Interruption Duration Index (CAIDI). SAIFI is compiled yearly, and the figure represents the number of service interruptions divided by the number of customers served. CAIDI is also compiled yearly, and it represents the average time to restore interrupted customers. The CAIDI figure represents the total customer minutes of interruption divided by the total number of customers affected. For both figures, a low number indicates a better performance.
2015 numbers for CECONY (electric)
CAIDI: 186 minutes
2015 numbers for O&R (electric)
CAIDI: 140.1 minutes
Ongoing programs at CECONY and O&R are improving performance reliability through capital investments and better operating methods while meeting growing customer demand.
In 2015, CECONY replaced approximately 70 miles of leak-prone pipe against an annual target of 65 miles. This achieved the main replacement performance measure required under its current gas rate agreement. Under the terms of its gas rate agreement, CECONY’s goal will be 70 miles in 2016. In 2015, O&R replaced nearly 18 miles of gas main, exceeding our goal and reducing active gas leaks to an all-time low.
The total gas leak backlog in 2015 was 523 leaks compared to an annual Public Service Commission goal of 750. Finally, total incoming gas leaks identified in 2015 were 9,840. A total of 11,423 repairs were made resulting in the backlog of 523 leaks described above. An estimated reduction in methane emissions of 7,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent was achieved from 2014-2015 (based upon greenhouse gas reporting per foot emission factors for pipe materials).