Going digital: Con Edison modernizes substation serving NYC: Upgrades at a critical substation following Superstorm Sandy

In a recent feature article published in Transmission & Distribution World, Manuel Pimenta* of Consolidated Edison describes how the utility upgraded a critical downtown substation serving Manhattan. Click the link at the end of this excerpt to access the full feature. The upgrading and hardening of this electrical substation is analogous to the post-Sandy efforts of Consolidated Edison Steam Operations to harden its steam distribution system. ConEd  is a member of the International District Energy Association (IDEA) and will deliver a major presentation on post-Sandy hardening of their steam distribution system at the IDEA Campus Energy Conference, Thermal Distribution Workshop in Miami, FL, Feb 20-21.

This was the moment of truth. On May 8, 2016, the Energy Control Center was about to issue the command to close Breaker 4 and energize the first 345­kV transformer at the East 13 Street substation. At 1:58 p.m. the command was sent, Breaker 4 closed, and the new integrated substation automation and protection system (SAPS) was officially on-line.

A few team members momentarily held their breath as the Breaker 4 command was issued. It was Con Edison’s first time installing and energizing the 345­kV Plug and Switch System (PASS) breaker. In addition, the technicians were also installing a new SAPS, which was completely based on an IEC 61850 fiber­optic architecture. After exhaustive testing and double and triple checks, the breaker operation was anticlimactic. The power came back on, and everything worked as expected.

Hardening a Critical Substation

Eighteen months earlier, Sanjay Bose, the central engineering vice president, had given his team the directive to upgrade and modernize the East 13 Street substation from its 1950′s vintage relay protection system to a state-of-the-art IEC 61850 system. This was a radical departure from the standard design for systems of this type.

It was also going to be perhaps the largest brownfield implementation of its kind: an IEC 61850 protection and automation system in a high-voltage substation serving a critical and high-density metropolitan area. The East 13 Street substation provides power for 220,908 meter customers in Manhattan, which translates to almost 1 million people. Except for the World Trade Center load pocket, all customers south of about 36 Street depend on this substation for their power.

This was dramatically demonstrated during the onslaught and aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. A picture of Manhattan taken that night shows a dark outline south of 36 Street, where normally one would see a dense concentration of lit up buildings and streets. The East 13 Street substation, which is separated from the East River by only a narrow highway, had suffered the brunt of the storm’s fury. It was flooded by the storm surge and was forced off-line.

As a result of Sandy, Con Edison has launched a massive effort to harden the substation against future flooding events. The utility has raised perimeter wall heights around the substation and deployed movable gates, which can be rolled into position and tightened down to effectively seal the substation perimeter against water ingress. In some instances, Con Edison also elevated equipment above expected flood levels and installed an extensive high-­capacity pumping system.  More….

*Manny Pimenta is a senior engineer for Consolidated Edison. He joined the company in 2012 and has more than 20 years of experience with SCADA systems. He also worked for eight years in the defense industry as a test systems engineer and engineering team leader. He was part of the EPRI IEC 61850 test bed project and participated in EPRI’s Transmission and Substation Area Task Force.

About IDEA Industry News

EDITOR: Leonard Phillips, IDEA Director of Business Development, International District Energy Association (IDEA), a nonprofit association founded in 1909. len.idea@districtenergy.org; +1 508-366-9339.
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