Spreading a Message of Sustainability

Going Green gets the spotlight each April when Earth Day events abound and awareness takes center stage. But sustainability is something we emphasize year-round at NYPA’s Visitors Centers, and you’ll find we’ve been spreading the sustainability message to the community for generations.

Our three admission-free New York State Visitors Centers have been in operation for more than 100 years combined! In that time, over 10 million guests have walked through our doors, learning how renewable energy is generated and transmitted.

Nestled near NYPA’s Hydropower facilities, our Visitors Centers offer a unique experience as the energy of water is harnessed close by. Our interactive exhibits, demos, special events and community outreach programs put energy-efficiency knowledge and best practices right into the hands of our community members and visiting tourists. By exploring the benefits of renewable energy sources like water, wind and solar – and learning about small changes that can lead to big energy savings – we empower our visitors to lead more energy-efficient lives, every day of the year.

An annual tradition, we’re hosting special events honoring Earth Day Weekend at the Niagara Power Vista and Blenheim-Gilboa Visitors Center. Join us on Saturday, April 25 for the Every Day is Earth Day event at the Power Vista and on Saturday & Sunday, April 25 & 26 for Earth Day Weekend at Blenheim-Gilboa.

NYPA’s Visitors Centers

In Central NY:
The Blenheim-Gilboa Power Project Visitors Center
1378 State Route 30
North Blenheim, NY 12131
1-800-724-0309

In Western NY:
The Niagara Power Project Power Vista
5777 Lewiston Road
(Route 104)
Lewiston, NY 14092
716-286-6661

In Northern NY:
The Frank S. McCullough, Jr. Hawkins Point Visitors Center and Boat Launch
21 Hawkins Point Road
Massena, NY 13662
315-764-0226

Electric Vehicles Surge in New York

There are now over 10,000 electric plug-in vehicles on the road in New York today.

Since Governor Cuomo’s Charge NY initiative was launched in early 2013, nearly 1,000 outlets at 438 charging stations charge electric vehicles across the Empire State. Charge NY is an initiative to create a statewide network of up to 3,000 public and workplace charging stations by 2018 and to put up to 40,000 plug-in vehicles on the roads.

To encourage drivers to choose a hybrid or EV, New York State allows them to use the HOV lanes, regardless of the number of travelers, through the Clean Pass Program. For those already driving electric vehicles, New York also offers a tax credit, up to $5,000, for the purchase and installation of a home charging station. An October 2014 US Department of Energy estimate puts the cost of driving an EV at less than half of what it costs to run a car on gasoline.

With nearly 30 plug-in hybrid or full electric vehicles from over a dozen manufacturers, a future with over 3 million electric vehicles on the roads is quickly becoming a reality.

In New York, we’ve seen an explosion of electric vehicle registration. The first quarter of 2013 saw under 4,000 electric vehicles registered – today, we’re at over 10,000. This year, the New York Auto Show had more electric & hybrid vehicles on display than ever before, and with an indoor “Clean Air Test Track”, consumers were able to see first-hand the benefits of electric vehicle ownership.

Meeting the Challenges of Tomorrow

Photo: University Herald

Photo: University Herald

No matter how intelligent it might get, the smart grid will always be on a learning curve.

But that should be viewed more as an opportunity, rather than a problem, said Alan Ettlinger, who leads NYPA’s research and development team.

As Ettlinger sees it, the smart grid is a response to replacing a rapidly aging energy infrastructure. In other words, there’s no reason not to think big.

“The utility of tomorrow may not have transmission lines,” Ettlinger said at a recent smart-grid panel at the Israel Dealmakers Summit in New York. “When we were growing up we didn’t have cellphones. What’s to say we can’t transmit electricity wirelessly?”

Such a notion may be a little Jetsons-esque—at least for now—but Ettlinger said now is the time to “meet the challenges of tomorrow.” Another speaker on the panel had mentioned how one utility protected itself from hackers by simply disconnecting its control room from the Internet.

Cyber-security is, of course, vitally important, Ettlinger said, but keeping the control offline is not the way to go. “That’s not the answer. We need to develop the answer that’s not there.”

Indeed, staying connected is one thing Ettlinger had in mind when he talked about the Advanced Grid Innovation Laboratory for Energy (AGILe), a collaboration between NYPA and SUNY Polytechnic Institute to build a world-class facility that will simulate, develop and test a more integrated grid.

What makes AGILe different from other energy research labs is that it will focus more on how the power system can meet the needs of an economy that is at once energy driven and environmentally sustainable. The increasingly larger footprint left by renewable energy, like solar and wind power, makes that possible. Small-scale, clean generation does too. So, before advanced transmission apps, security automation and the latest sensors are deployed, they can be exhaustively tested at AGILe to ensure they’re ready for prime time.

“We need to be forward-looking and in many cases predict what will happen many years from now,” Ettlinger said.

NYPA Trustees Profiles: Terrance P. Flynn

Following up on the Women’s History Profiles, this April we are pleased to feature profiles of several NYPA Trustees. Each NYPA Trustee comes from a unique academic and professional background, as well as a unique part of New York State.

Mr. Flynn, the former presidentially appointed United States Attorney for the Western District of New York, is a member of the firm of Harris Beach. He is Co-Leader of the firm’s Government Compliance and Investigation Practice Group and also specializes in business and commercial litigation, insurance litigation, product liability and e-discovery.

What do you enjoy the most about being a NYPA trustee?

I especially enjoy meeting and working with our employees throughout the Authority. I can still remember my first visits to our various facilities as well as to our White Plains office. One can truly experience the overall breadth and diversity of our top-notch team by spending time with everyone in our various facilities. I always come away from such statewide visits with such pride in our NYPA Team.

What skills have you taken from your day-to-day career and applied to your work at NYPA?

As a lawyer and the former US Attorney for the Western District of New York, I try to share my experiences from both a legal and managerial perspective in a way that supports NYPA’s public mission.

Has the reverse been true? Have you learned skills at NYPA and taken them back to your day-to-day responsibilities?

Yes. The various employees at NYPA have fostered in me a desire to constantly challenge myself to learn new things! NYPA is constantly looking for new ways to create clean energy to support our role as leaders in providing clean and cost effective power. Such a goal requires you to challenge yourself daily to work together in a team environment, identifying new and innovative ways to reach that goal. As a result, my time at NYPA has helped me to further develop my team-oriented skills.

How has your style of leadership evolved over time?

As a leader, I have realized that it is extremely important to always listen before making decisions. However, listening is one of those skills that you can always improve upon! So I constantly listen to as many people as possible in order to make a proper decision.

As a NYPA Trustee what is the biggest challenge you have faced?

Like everyone, I have multiple responsibilities in my life. As a full time practicing lawyer at Harris Beach, I have to constantly balance my responsibilities to my clients and law firm colleagues with my obligations as a NYPA Trustee.

How do you see NYPA changing over the next 10 years? The next 25?

First and foremost, we must maintain the integrity of our various power generating facilities. To reach that goal, I believe NYPA will continue to look for innovative ways to properly extend the life span of our main facilities.

Working in the energy sector, what aspect has been the biggest eye-opener for you?

I am amazed by the vast number and variety of people in both the public and private sectors who are very interested in NYPA and what we are doing on a daily basis.

How does your home county give you a unique perspective when working as a NYPA Trustee?

As a citizen of Western New York, I have a very unique perspective in light of our history. The Robert Moses/Lewiston Generation Plants are one of the premier assets in Western New York from both a historical and public service perspective. I was fortunate to know growing up in Mount Morris one of the men who built the plants over 50 years ago, Arnold Hamby. He was kind enough to share with me his experiences and memories of those days.

When you take a minute to think how those individuals dedicated their lives to building something which had never been done before on such a large scale, you cannot help but be very proud of their work. Arnold Hamby, like so many others of his generation, are no longer with us on this earth, yet their accomplishments in building those Plants are here to stay! I therefore believe strongly that it is mine as well as all the NYPA employees and other Trustees’ responsibility to protect and preserve all of our assets!

If you could choose just one facet of NYPA for the public to be aware of, what would it be?

I think it is important for the public to learn about our individual team members working at the many NYPA locations. Our employees truly care about each of our facilities and we need to let the public see how much they care!

STEVE WEINER IS ON A ROLL

Photo Credit: Ryan Schude/Guinness World Records

Photo Credit: Ryan Schude/Guinness World Records

Don’t let Steve Weiner get near your kitchen.

When he’s not working as a budget manager for the New York Power Authority, Weiner spends a lot of time with frying pans. Rolling them up. With his bare hands.

Why?

Why not? For the otherwise mild-mannered Weiner it’s fun. And it’s also earned him a spot in the 2015 Guinness Book of World Records for rolling 12 pans in a minute, a record, it should be noted, he’s, um, already crushed.

Weiner recently spoke about his unconventional claim to fame.

How did you first get interested in crushing frying pans?

I read a book called the “Mighty Atom,” the true story of Joseph Greenstein, a Strongman from the early 20th century. The book inspired me to attend a meeting of the Association of Old Time Barbell and Strongmen, which featured modern-day Strongmen performing all kinds of feats of strength, including bending horseshoes and spikes, and breaking chains. The experience awakened something in me.

When did you begin performing?

For several years I practiced many different kinds of feats of strength privately—mostly lifting heavy objects. In 2004, I was invited by the association to make my debut.

Why frying pans?

A friend I met on the Strongman circuit showed me how. I sprained my wrist a few times, but I got pretty good at it.

Do you have a special kind of frying pan you like to use?

I’m obligated to use commercially available aluminum pans. I get them for about $8 each. I estimate that I’ve spent somewhere between five and six thousand dollars on pans since I first started.

When did you set your sight on getting in the Guinness Book of World Records?

I’ve always wanted to be in the Guinness book. When I was a student at SUNY Albany, the student government sponsored a Guinness Day, and I participated in many events designed to break records, including a new one for world’s largest game of musical chairs. I also once tried to set a record by attempting to eat more than 20 quarter-pound hamburgers in 20 minutes. I was only able to eat 11.

When I started to get good at rolling pans, I was contacted by casting agents for a program called “Guinness Book of World Records Unleashed,” where contestants would try to break records before a live audience. At the time, the record for rolling frying pans was eight in one minute. I rolled 12 pans in 2013 and made it into this year’s book.

Tell us about your recent trip to China.

I was contacted last December by a promoter putting together a show of Guinness record holders at the Venetian Casino and Hotel in Macau, a part of China near Hong Kong that’s the largest gambling center in the world. Two Guinness judges were going to be in attendance. I watched video of my previous performances. Using time and motion studies, I figured out places where I could gain valuable seconds. Fortunately, I beat my own record and rolled 14 pans in one minute.

What’s your secret?

These feats of strength are as much about mental fortitude as they are about physical force. You have to believe you can do it. I really like tackling something that seems impossible. It’s a habit that’s been useful in my professional life as well. I never dreamed my quirky little hobby would turn into something this big. It’s been a lot of fun, but I’m not finished. Records are made to be broken.

NYPA Trustees Profiles: Jonathan F. Foster

Following up on the Women’s History Profiles, this April we are pleased to feature profiles of several NYPA Trustees. Each NYPA Trustee comes from a unique academic and professional background, as well as a unique part of New York State.

Our first profile features Trustee Jonathan F. Foster of New York City. Trustee Foster joined the NYPA Board in 2008; he is an investment banker and private equity investor.

What skills have you taken from your day-to-day career and applied to your work at NYPA?

I am an experienced corporate director in the private sector, having served and continuing to serve on the boards of publicly traded and privately owned companies in a variety of sizes and across a number of sectors.

In the private sector, maximizing value for shareholders is typically the primary consideration, although directors need to be sensitive to the employees, communities and other parties. I have taken this principal focus on maximizing shareholder value and tried to apply it appropriately at the Power Authority.

Our mission is to “power the economic growth and competitiveness of New York State by providing customers with low-cost, clean, reliable power and the innovative energy infrastructure and services they value.” This indicates the many objectives and constituencies we have at NYPA from supporting economic growth in Western New York to providing valuable, cost efficient power across the state.

How do you see NYPA changing over the next 10 years? The next 25?

While energy usage, in general, has slowed, given more efforts on conservation and a modestly growing economy after the “Great Recession,” and prices have tumbled given increasing oil and gas supplies in North America, energy remains critical to our economy and lifestyle.

Periodically, there are “energy shocks.” So, it is hard to see how NYPA may change over the next decade or more. What is critical is that we continue to anticipate the state’s energy needs and be helpful in times of particular need.

All NYPA Trustees come from different counties. How do you feel living in New York City impacts your perspective?

I live and work in Manhattan. While our major hydro facilities are in the North Country and Western New York, NYPA is important in New York City, too. NYPA was established as an Authority in the 1930s by then Governor Franklin Roosevelt to serve all New Yorkers. Although most of the generation is upstate, thanks in part to NYPA’s some 1,400 miles of transmission lines, much of the power used by New York City government entities every day is generated and transported by NYPA.

My involvement in the investment business and the vibrant finance community in New York City where I live give me a valuable perspective on and pride in NYPA’s enviable financial performance and credit rating.

If you could choose just one facet of NYPA for the public to be aware of, what would it be?

It is the largest state utility in the country with some of the world’s largest, lowest cost hydro facilities, a valuable renewable energy source – yet it is very focused on economic development as well.

BuildSmart NY Facility Star: Jacob Javits Convention Center Staff

BuildSmart NY is Governor Cuomo’s Statewide initiative to improve energy efficiency in State owned and managed buildings by 20% by the year 2020. Each month, NYPA will showcase a selected BuildSmart NY Facility Star to recognize the dedication of these people and their organizations. To learn more about BuildSmart NY, visit http://www.buildsmart.ny.gov/.

This month’s BuildSmart NY Facility Stars:
Rick Brown: Chief Engineer [25 yrs]
Jim Yeager: General Foreman Electrical [14 yrs]

The Jacob K. Javits Convention Center recently completed a comprehensive renovation, the centerpiece of which is a seven-acre green roof.

A key component of the renovation was the installation of variable air volume (VAV) boxes across the entire building. The VAV system was outfitted with extensive metering and sensors which are all captured by the Building Management System and displayed on an Energy Dashboard so that a better understanding of the energy profile of event organizers can be gained. This allows for temperature and air flow control at 12,600 unique points across the building, many corresponding to where vendor booths are located. Building operators can now adjust temperature based on the needs of the specific vendor, ensuring highly energy efficient operations.

While the use of VAV technology is impressive, perhaps more impressive was that most of the installation and commissioning was performed by internal facility staff. Led by Rick Brown and Jim Yeager, the Javits Center facility team was integral in the implementation of this project, ensuring a timely and cost-effective delivery. The team has also developed expertise on the control of the system, and now effectively controls and customizes temperature throughout the facility resulting in cost savings of $390,000, and a 5% annual energy savings.

For their leadership on this project and ongoing dedication to facility management, we recognize Jim and Rick as BuildSmart NY Facility Stars