Grid Modernization

NYPA tests sensors at hydro plant as part of digital effort

The New York Power Authority on July 30 said that it is testing an array of sensors at its Robert Moses-Niagara Power Plant that will help determine the life expectancy of key equipment and head off potential problems before they can affect operations.

NYPA said that data from about 100 sensors is currently being used in a simulation on a turbine-generator unit at the plant. However, NYPA engineers will soon seek to deploy them elsewhere as part of a larger equipment life extension and modernization program at the facility.

“The data from these sensors will arm us with the knowledge of what equipment should be replaced and what can be rebuilt,” said Gil Quiniones, NYPA president and CEO, in a news release. “With this information from key sensors we can direct resources devoted to maintenance to where they’re needed most and avoid potentially costly equipment failures.”

 In order to help determine the life cycle of a turbine-generating unit, the sensor simulations have provided information that could be used to estimate the life of principal unit components, such as a shaft or a generator motor, the Authority said.

NYPA has previously employed sensor simulations at other facilities, including its Blenheim-Gilboa Pumped Storage Plant in Schoharie County, N.Y., where tests helped predict and identify rotor cracks, and at the Lewiston Pump Generating Plant in Niagara County to evaluate the life cycle of the components there.

One priority at Niagara is to determine whether vibrations in bearings of rotors and shafts reveal patterns that suggest repairs may be needed.

NYPA said that the sensor testing moves it one step closer toward becoming the country’s first all-digital electric utility, supports New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Reforming the Energy Vision initiative and is also an essential component of NYPA’s 2020 Strategic Vision digital utility roadmap.

The Robert Moses-Niagara and Lewiston plants are part of the Niagara Power Project, New York’s largest electricity producer. It provides up to 2.6 million kilowatts of electricity from 25 turbines spinning 748,000 gallons of water per second.

NYPA notes that the sensor simulations come at a time when NYPA has already committed at least $750 million to lifecycle extension and modernization programs at its facilities, which includes installing new control and monitoring systems.

NYPA will also rely on an extensive network of sensors that feed into  its Integrated Smart Operations Center in White Plains, launched last December, to monitor operations throughout the NYPA network.

NYPA recently said that it is aggressively advancing efforts to deliver on its strategic initiative to build smart generation and transmission capabilities across New York State through an expansion of two digitization projects. The projects are NYPA’s Phasor Measurement Unit program and upgrades to the Authority’s Convertible Static Compensator.