By Ann de Rouffignac
HOUSTON, Sept. 13, 2001 – The New York Mercantile Exchange and New York Stock Exchange are arranging for crucial emergency back up power needed to resume operations following the catastrophic losses from Tuesday’s attacks on the World Trade Center, sources said.
The devastating fires and toppled buildings near the twin towers have left much of the financial district without power. Consolidated Edison Inc., which serves the area with gas and power, reported Wednesday the collapse of other buildings near the 110-story twin towers permanently damaged two substations.
A third substation lost service. There have been no estimates of when the electrical distribution system in the area will be fully restored. Ken Klapp, a spokesman for the New York Independent System Operator, said about 200 Mw of load was lost, resulting from electric outages in Lower Manhattan.
Sources close to the power recovery effort expect scores of temporary diesel generators to be operating in the area for weeks and perhaps months. Power companies have experience setting up for recovery after natural disasters but not terrorist acts, said Mike Wuebben of Caterpillar Inc., a major supplier of diesel generators.
“This is a lack of information situation,” said Wuebben, who is helping to arrange for the generators and support requested by the utility and businesses, including the NYSE.
NYMEX personnel said they are testing the electronic trading systems in the building and preparing for a limited session of electronic trading for their registered access users. But the building remains “sealed off.” A NYMEX spokeswoman would not say how the building was receiving power and declined further comment.
Wuebben said Caterpillar, Peoria, Ill., has already set up a series of generator sets that can produce 2 Mw each in the financial district. Caterpillar has hundreds more generators “staged” ready to go, he said. Caterpillar is working with Consolidated Edison and the NYSE in an effort to get electricity flowing.
US government officials have said in the aftermath of the attacks that it is important for financial markets to resume normal trading activity as soon as possible. Stock exchange officials said trading is expected to resume Monday, contingent on results of testing to be done over the weekend.
Intense preparation must take place before the diesel generators can fully power up one of the large office buildings. The building has to be checked out by the utility as “safe” to receive the emergency power, he said. External cooling systems must also be reviewed.
Caterpillar is coordinating deliveries and other logistics out of its Long Island office. The team will also coordinate the delivery of fuel. A continuously operating generator capable of producing 1,750 kw would require about 135 gph of fuel. Storage tanks associated with these generators hold a maximum of 1,300 gallons.
GE Power Systems, a unit of General Electric Co., has also sent diesel generators and light towers to individual customers, utilities, and government agencies, said GE spokesman Jeff Ignaszak.
“We have equipment already there and on the way,” he said. “We are working ’24-7′ fulfilling requests and orchestrating truck and even deliveries via Hudson River.” But Ignaszak would not elaborate further. The diesel generator companies don’t expect environmental permits to slow down the installation of the emergency power generators.
“We will expedite any government air permit request,” said Dave Ryan, spokesman for the EPA in Washington. But Ryan said he didn’t know if requests for permits or emergency exceptions to the current air quality laws have been received by New York authorities.