Con Edison works to flood-proof electric substations

Con Edison is making investments to protect its underground and overhead energy delivery systems from storms to help limit power outages and speed service restoration to customers.

The utility plans to invest $1 billion on storm protection measures over the next four years in New York City and in Westchester County.

The investments include more than $475 million on its electric distribution system. The design and equipment improvements will help limit damage from major storms, and reduce the number and duration of customer outages.

Hurricane Sandy caused more than one million power outages, affecting nearly one-third of the Con Edison’s customers late last year.

Con Edison will pursue burying about 30 miles of overhead power lines in New York City and Westchester County in 2015 and 2016, at a cost of about $200 million. Undergrounding all 35,000 miles of the company’s overhead systems would cost about $60 billion.

Major elements of Con Edison’s storm improvement plans include:

·      Building concrete flood barriers around critical equipment and higher perimeter walls around substations.

·      Installing floodgates at tunnel openings.

·      Installing additional submersible electrical equipment in flood-prone areas of the electric distribution system.

·      Redesigning two underground electrical networks in lower Manhattan and one serving coastal communities in Brooklyn. The new smart grid designs will allow the company to pre-emptively de-energize customers in flood-prone areas, restore power faster when floodwaters recede, while keeping customers in the surrounding areas with power.

·      Installing hundreds of remote “smart” switches to isolate damaged equipment to help reduce the number of homes that lose power when a tree knocks down a power cable; and installing stronger, tree-branch resistant aerial cable.

·      Installing utility poles in storm-prone areas that are 15 percent stronger and able to withstand wind gusts of up to 110 mph.

·      Deploying thousands of overhead isolation devices to reduce customer outages and facilitate faster restoration.

·      Installing additional high-powered flood pumps in advance of storms.

·      Deploying water-resistant sealant in conduits containing electrical circuits.

·      Installing special float-check valves to protect gas services from floods.

·      Replacing cast iron and steel gas pipes in flood prone areas.

·      Strengthening communications for gas control and monitoring systems.

System-wide improvements underway include installation of 31 network transformers, six new feeders, 207 overhead transformers, and reinforcement of 46 feeders, 100 underground sections and 250 overhead spans. Upgrades to two unit substations also are in progress.

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The Clarion Energy Content Team is made up of editors from various publications, including POWERGRID International, Power Engineering, Renewable Energy World, Hydro Review, Smart Energy International, and Power Engineering International. Contact the content lead for this publication at

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