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How IoT makes electricity generation more efficient

Thor Olavsrud | Oct. 11, 2016
With the help of GE Power, the New York Power Authority is leveraging sensors and predictive analytics to reduce unplanned downtime and make its 16 generating facilities and more than 1,400 circuit-miles of transmission lines more efficient.

The software, running in NYPA's central Smart Operations Center in White Plains, NY, then provides operations leaders with predictive alerts that accurately forecast possible failures up to weeks before they occur.

GE Power is providing the Asset Performance Management (APM) software that will use the data analytics to monitor power generation and transmission equipment health, predicting potential failures and reducing unplanned downtime, lowering maintenance costs and operational risks. The APM solution runs on GE's Predix operating system for the Industrial Internet.

NYPA and GE Power announced their agreement, reached through a competitive bid process, last Thursday. The deal makes NYPA the first U.S. power provider to sign an enterprise-wide digital transformation agreement with GE Power.

"They're really trying to drive a transformation of their business and digitize it across both their generation assets and their distribution," says Brent Maxwell, general manager, Software, Power Services, North America, GE Power. "It's going from monitoring their assets to predicting failures. It's a big step up in analytical capabilities."

By employing the software enterprise-wide, NYPA hopes to define what the utility of the 21st century looks like.

NYPA's Lee says the plan is to begin operations in the Smart Operations Center in December. The first steps will include asset management of NYPA's gas turbines, which Lee says should be up and running in December. The hydro-powered generating facilities will take longer, as they utilize older, legacy technology, but Lee hopes to connect them in 2017. Leveraging predictive analytics for cybersecurity is also part of the plan for 2017.

"I landed here about four months ago," says Lee, formerly the chief architect at Pacific Gas & Electric and chief IT architect at Xcel Energy. "One of the reasons I was brought in was to help with the transformation of moving the utility from an 'as is' state to a 'future utility.'"

To aid Lee in that effort, NYPA juggled its reporting structure. While his predecessor reported to a member of NYPA's executive management committee (EMC), Lee reports directly to NYPA President and CEO Gil C. Quiniones and has a seat on the EMC.

"It allows me to make significant changes very quickly," he says. "The trust, the alignment on the vision around where we need to go as a company, is just extraordinary amongst our leadership team. I am also able to very quickly get approval for additional headcount and resources."

For instance, Lee says, he's set up a new IoT analytics team focused on big data and predictive analytics — not just for operations, but also for cybersecurity and IT operations as well.

"We're turning it from a reporting function to focusing on how it can reduce cost or provide opportunity to increase revenue," he says.


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