Communication Technology, T&D, Transmission

NYPA authorizes spending on improved digital communications infrastructure

The New York Power Authority Board of Trustees have approved $52 million for the final phase of construction for new digital communication systems on NYPA transmission lines, improving the efficiency and reliability of the New York State electricity system.

The multiphase Communications Backbone initiative, first announced in 2017, involves the installation of fiber optic cables and other communications systems connecting NYPA’s 16 power generating facilities and 1,400 miles of transmission infrastructure to its White Plains office and the Integrated Smart Operations Center.

“These measures will improve the reliability of the Power Authority’s statewide power grid by allowing operators to be more informed and responsive to changing conditions on our transmission lines,” said Gil C. Quiniones, NYPA president and CEO. “Reliable communication is integral to safety and security, and as technology advances this program ensures communication systems along our transmission system are state of the art.”

NYPA’s Communications Backbone initiative is currently underway across the state. It replaces legacy leased communication circuits with new infrastructure that will increase available bandwidth as more digital assets and sensors come online via NYPA’s concurrent Sensor Deployment program aimed at adding about 100,000 data points—or units of information—for monitoring NYPA equipment.

Together, the programs support Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s comprehensive State of the State proposal to modernize the state’s power grid to bolster its reliability and accommodate intermittent renewable energy sources to support New York’s Green New Deal and clean energy goals.

Funding for the final phase of the program was authorized by the NYPA Board of Trustees at its December 11 meeting and will cover costs for the installation of optical ground wire along several transmission lines throughout the state and microwave systems in southeast New York. Trustees previously authorized $19.78 million in March 2017 and $77.5 million last year. The program completion date is estimated to be sometime next year.

When the Communications Backbone initiative is complete, NYPA will have a dedicated, robust, secure and scalable communication network connecting all its facilities. The network will replace previous technology, increase the quantity and quality of available information on NYPA’s physical assets, and communicate potential equipment problems remotely. The initiative, which is estimated to cost approximately $153 million in total, will lead to better analytics and improved operations and business decisions.

In addition to anticipated savings from improved operational efficiency, the initiative will yield additional net savings through the installation of fiber-optic cables and remote sensors that will allow NYPA to connect and communicate with its generation and transmission assets, resulting in a reduced reliance on commercial telecommunications providers.

The Communications Backbone initiative is a foundational element in the NYPA’s smart generation and transmission and asset management strategic initiatives and a critical component in NYPA’s ambition to become the first end-to-end digital utility in the United States.