NYPA report tracks progress toward utility's sustainability goals
Originally published September 6, 2013
The New York Power Authority issued a report that tracks the power authority’s first three years of progress in implementing its Sustainability Action Plan.
The three-year plan, unveiled in 2010, was developed by a diverse team of NYPA employees to encourage a greater culture of sustainability in the utility’s operations. The report uses the "triple-bottom-line" definition of sustainability – environmental stewardship, social equity and economic prosperity – and measures progress on 39 action items addressing such concerns as carbon emissions, water conservation, renewable energy and green buildings.
"The need to operate in a more sustainable manner became especially apparent in 2012 after the devastation wrought by Superstorm Sandy," said NYPA President and CEO Gil C. Quiniones. Under the leadership of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York state "has implemented a variety of initiatives to protect the environment, combat climate change and create green jobs," he said. "Here at the power authority, we are doing our part to help create a safer, cleaner, healthier future for all New Yorkers."
Among NYPA’s sustainable accomplishments in 2012 are:
• Expanded efforts to reduce the utility's carbon footprint, particularly the release of sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), a highly potent greenhouse gas that is used in electrical transmission equipment. New technologies, including a laser imaging camera, are now used during maintenance work to detect and address escaping SF6, NYPA said. This resulted in a leakage rate of 2.8 percent, well below the 6 percent target set by the Environmental Protection Agency.
• Water conservation measures that include audits of non-process water usage at all NYPA sites and improvement projects resulting in more efficient use of water for power generation. A chiller replacement at NYPA’s Niagara Hydroelectric Power Plant, for example, is saving 7 million gallons of potable water annually while eliminating 1.4 million gallons of discharge into the facility’s sanitary system.
• Support for renewable energy projects, including distributed generation systems as well as purchases of renewable energy credits (RECs) from other generators on behalf of customers. NYPA now has 120 solar photovoltaic installations around the state for a combined capacity of 2,163 kilowatts while its Green Power REC purchases now exceed 200 gigawatt-hours a year.
• Additional certifications from the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system. The gold-level award (for existing buildings) NYPA received at its White Plains administrative offices in 2006 has been renewed following a more stringent recertification process completed in 2012. A new warehouse built for NYPA’s Niagara power plant also received a gold rating from the Green Building Council.
The New York utility's day-to-day operations, as well as its support for several of Gov. Cuomo’s special programs, "further advance the principles of sustainability," NYPA said. "For example, the New York Energy Highway initiative to create a stronger, more flexible energy infrastructure will be realized through a number of power authority projects, including a $726 million life extension and modernization of NYPA’s statewide transmission network."
BuildSmart NY, which requires all state agencies and authorities to improve their energy efficiency by 20 percent by 2020, is another of the governor’s programs that NYPA is supporting. Under Executive Order 88, issued in late 2012, Gov. Cuomo designated NYPA as the lead entity to carry out the initiative.
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