Powering Strong Communities

NYPA project gathers real-time weather data for transmission lines

The New York Power Authority (NYPA) has embarked on a project to gather real-time weather information from sensors on its transmission lines.

The $1 million Forecast Dynamic Line Rating Research and Development project is being jointly funded by NYPA and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). The system monitors actual weather conditions at individual transmission towers rather than relying on national forecast data taken miles away.

“A real-time technology that provides accurate, detailed forecasting data will help NYPA determine how to safely and reliably move more electricity through existing transmission lines,” Alan Ettlinger, senior director of research, technology development and innovation at NYPA, said in a statement. “This solution can be easily implemented by other utility companies and help transmission line operators enhance the current-carrying capability of New York State’s electric power system and better address congestion issues.”

The sensors have been installed on NYPA’s Moses-Willis-Plattsburgh transmission lines in 10 locations throughout St. Lawrence, Franklin and Clinton Counties on New York’s northernmost border.

Ratings by the New York Independent System Operator and by utilities for how much power a transmission line can transmit are affected by the weather and NYPA, like most utilities, now uses static line ratings based on conservative assumptions about weather conditions to determine how much electricity can safely be pushed through a line.

Transmission lines in New York’s North Country, however, often take circuitous routes through remote areas with many valleys and mountains where weather can change quickly because of variable wind and light conditions.

NYPA said being able to receive regular updates on real-time conditions including air temperature, wind conditions and solar intensity, will help system operators know more accurately how much power can be delivered through the lines. The technology could enhance the transmission capability up to 60 percent on some transmission lines, Ettlinger said.

The project will demonstrate the WindSim Power Line forecast/real-time transmission line rating system that can help enhance the capacity of existing transmission infrastructure and relieve congestion, enabling more efficient utilization of the electric transmission and distribution grid, NYPA said. It said that the project is the first in the nation to validate the ability to monitor and forecast transmission line capacity all along the transmission lines, including structure to structure spans, instead of using single weather monitor location measurements.

NYPA has more than 1,400 circuit-miles of transmission lines.

A video that offers additional details about the weatherization project and shows a weather sensor installation is available here.