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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.

NYPA's recently opened, Albany-based New York Energy Manager (NYEM) network operations center is a prime example of how the utility is leveraging analytics.

Energy savings from 20,000 buildings

When fully up and running, NYEM will be connected to 20,000 public buildings throughout the state. Most will be connected bi-directionally, meaning NYPA will be able to send controls to building management systems to actively drive energy savings by lowering heating or cooling requirements during periods of low use (like weekends, evenings, breaks in school schedules, etc.). In the future, it could be tied to building occupancy to match the requirements to the heat load associated with the number of people in a building.

Once the buildings are fully online, NYPA estimates NYEM will save taxpayers more than $100 million annually. Eventually, NYPA hopes to offer the services to its business and industrial customers.

"It will take time for the majority of buildings to be connected bi-directionally," Lee notes. "We will start with a significant number, but it will take time to connect a large percentage since many of the buildings have legacy systems which don't have building management systems to connect to. This is a capability which we're actively working to mature."

"This is also an example of why we have prioritized improving our cyber security capabilities," he adds. "With increased business capabilities through realization of our strategic initiatives, we bring new risks into our environment. As part of my cyber security organization, we are increasing our capabilities to identify, protect, detect, respond and recover from new risks and threats."

There are other opportunities as well. Right now, NYPA bids into the market to sell its energy. Once it has made commitments to sell that energy, it's penalized if it doesn't live up to the agreements. As a result, due to the possibility of outages, it has to leave some percentage of the energy it generates unsold as a contingency.

"If we can better predict and have finer tolerances for that safety margin, that turns into real revenue for energy we can sell," Lee says.

"The digital transformation of electric power has the potential to create more than a trillion dollars of economic and societal value in the decade," Ganesh Bell, chief digital officer, GE Power, said in a statement Thursday. "NYPA is truly a pioneer, moving first to unleash the value that comes from connecting, monitoring analyzing and ultimately optimizing the performance of its entire electricity value network."


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