Zero Harm. That’s the main objective for the nearly 15,000 women and men who represent us, as well as the communities we serve and the planet we inhabit. We place an emphasis on safety, on achieving injury-free work performance, and on doing our jobs without harm to the public, our contractors, our employees, or the environment.
We are committed to the vision of a zero-harm workplace and prevention of events that give rise to injuries. As a measurement of progress toward this vision, the company is pursuing a reduction in the OSHA incidence rate to 1.00 by 2019 (as calculated in accordance with Bureau of Labor Statistics’ guidelines). The company is also specifically focused on the elimination of severe injuries, and has set a goal of zero high-hazard injuries by 2017.
Our field work meets exacting requirements for safety to keep our employees and the public unharmed. CECONY and O&R regularly communicate with customers on topics such as electric safety, gas safety, severe weather safety, downed power lines, Call 811 before you dig, and storm preparation tips.
We have reduced our carbon footprint by 48 percent since 2005—the equivalent of taking more than 500,000 vehicles off the road—and we continue to support efforts by local, state, and federal agencies and entities to make further reductions. For example, we are working with New York City to convert as many buildings as possible from heavy fuel oil to cleaner natural gas. We added natural gas firing capacity as our primary fuel to two of our large steam facilities as well, helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, we have worked voluntarily with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) to reduce the emissions of sulfur hexafluoride, or SF6, from our electrical equipment.
We are also converting the generating equipment at our steam and electric generating stations to burn No. 4 oil as the backup fuel to natural gas instead of No. 6 oil, which is heavier and contains a higher concentration of criteria pollutants. All Con Edison units will be converted by the end of 2019, in order to be capable of burning No. 4 fuel oil by the winter of 2019-20 and to meet the City of New York’s new requirements. With our system already burning more than 90 percent natural gas, this step further reduces the total emissions of the steam system that followed the significant gas emissions conversions completed in 2013.
We shipped tons of hazardous waste to licensed commercial waste-handling facilities. Most of the hazardous waste is lead-contaminated sediment that comes from cleaning our underground electric facilities such as transformer vaults and manholes.
In 2015, CECONY recycled tons of non-hazardous waste, including retired fleet vehicles, forklifts, and tool carts, which were auctioned for sale or scrapped for their components. Currently 92 percent of our non-hazardous waste is recycled.
How do you install miles of cable between energy substations without disrupting endangered species such as the timber rattlesnake and the bog turtle in their natural habitat? We found an ingenious way to do it that didn’t involve hauling in tons of heavy equipment like cranes and trucks, or wetland matting that would have disturbed the environment. Helicopter to the rescue!
Charging big fleets of electric vehicles has become more energy efficient and less costly thanks to a project we conducted with three research partners. Our engineers worked with experts from FedEx, General Electric, and Columbia University’s School of Engineering to show how smart-grid technology linked to charging stations can track and manage the power flow to electric vehicles.
We continue to build out our gas-delivery system to meet the high demand for cost-effective and energy-efficient natural gas. With our help, more than 5,200 large buildings in New York City have been converted from oil to natural gas in the past four years.
We recognize the importance of preserving natural resources. As one of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection’s largest water customers, we have ongoing initiatives to minimize our water footprint through efficiency-improvement projects. One of our steam-generating stations is reducing its water consumption through improved equipment design and water flow. We expect these design improvements to result in a reduction of more than 50 million gallons a year, which would be equivalent to approximately $850,000 in savings to customers.
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) was created to provide consistent standards for products, manufacturing processes, and management systems. ISO certification gives stakeholders a means to validate that our company is operating an effective environmental-management system. ISO also provides a framework for continual improvement throughout the company. In 2015, CECONY achieved its 13th consecutive year of companywide third-party certification by the Environmental Management System (EMS) to ISO 14001.