Powering Strong Communities

NYPA awarded APPA grants to study ice impacts on plant, advanced monitoring for substation assets

The New York Power Authority (NYPA) has been awarded two $125,000 grants from the American Public Power Association’s Demonstration of Energy & Efficiency Developments (DEED) program to fund demonstration projects that will analyze the impact of ice on a hydropower plant and test an advanced technology that evaluates the health of high voltage assets in a substation.

The DEED program funds research, pilot projects and educational programs to improve the operations and services of public power utilities. 

NYPA noted that it has had significant power generation losses due to ice blockages near intake valves in the Niagara River and has worked to address the issue with industry groups and other utilities.

During the winter, water can become supercooled all the way to the bottom of the river, leading to the formation of frazil ice crystals, anchor ice, or both. Anchor and frazil ice affects water availability estimation by Niagara River Control Center and frazil ice can affect hydropower plant operation since it is “sticky” and can result in ice formation on the plant’s water turbines.

The studies will include using 3-D sonar to quantify the impact of frazil ice on the efficiency of the hydropower units and forecasting the formation of anchor and frazil ice with a look ahead of a few days to a few weeks.

Smart insulation condition monitoring system for substation assets

Meanwhile, a state-of-the-art condition monitoring system (CMS) will be developed to constantly monitor the insulation condition of various high voltage assets (transformers, GIS, switchgears and cables) in a substation. 

The CMS consists of smart sensing, advanced noise mitigation and artificial intelligence for data interpretation.

The system will use an advanced diagnostic technology that recognizes and evaluates defects and provides guidance for maintenance planning. NYPA also said the system will improve power grid reliability, reduce customer outage costs, and help asset management optimize maintenance and maximize asset life.

APPA “recognizes the importance of these forward-thinking projects that will improve generation and transmission operations and allow data to be shared with other utilities seeking best practices,” said Alan Ettlinger, senior director of Research, Technology Development and Innovation at NYPA. “Innovative energy solutions are key to maintaining a responsible supply of affordable, clean and reliable electricity.”

“NYPA is an active supporter of electric utility industry research and a long-time DEED program partner,” said Alex Hofmann, APPA’s Vice President of Technical and Operations Services.

“The application of machine learning and artificial intelligence to utility operations has significant potential for increasing efficiencies, and we are very excited to work with NYPA to share the results of these innovative projects with the public power community,” he said.

The projects are expected to last two years and NYPA expects to release study results by spring 2023.

Michele Suddleson, Director of R&D Programs at APPA, recently discussed the benefits of participation in the DEED program in a Public Power Now podcast.

For additional information about DEED click here.