Sustainability

The Electric Vehicle rEVolution

ax176_690d_9In July of this year, US electric car sales jumped more than 45% compared to the same time period last year. Leading models include the Chevrolet Volt (2,406 sold); Tesla Model S & Model X (2,000 & 1,800, respectively) and the BMW i3 (1,479)1.

Questions regarding electric car’s consistently pop-up in conversation or on social media. Why are electric cars suddenly all the rage? When did electric cars first come into play? How has the EV industry grown?

It all started some 100 years ago. Innovators in Europe and the US experimented with a battery-powered vehicle in the earlier part of the 1800s. The first successful electric car was designed in 1890 by William Morrison, a chemist from Iowa, and had a top speed of 14 miles per hour. By 1900, around a third of all vehicles on the road were electric cars and growth continued until around 1910. In 1912, gas-powered cars cost almost a third of what an electric car cost2 and with evolving technology of gasoline-powered vehicles, they took off.

Fast-forward to 2000, with the worldwide debut of the Toyota Prius, electric cars made their way back into the spotlight. Silicon Valley startup, Tesla Motors, started producing electric cars in 2006 with a 200+ mile range on a single charge – at the time, unheard of. Over the next few years, other automakers came out with electric vehicles, but one problem remained – where to charge them.

Electric vehicles have transformed the way people think about their commutes, and even more so, their way of life. But what brought about these changes? One of the biggest evolutions is the fact that governments are embracing electric vehicle infrastructure and electric vehicles as a whole – offering workplace charging programs, installing new charging stations on major highways or in major metropolitan areas and offering incentives on EV and EV equipment purchases. Recent CO2 emission regulations are also encouraging adoption in the marketplace.

At NYPA, we recently held an EV showcase event, featuring models from three different auto-makers; employees and customers are offered incentives to “go green” by choosing to make their next car or fleet vehicle an EV or hybrid. At an event in Tarrytown, we celebrated over 100 charging stations that we’ve installed around New York State, with over 1,100 overall. Prioritizing clean transportation is moving from “wave of the future” to right now.

Another game-changer disrupting the industry is the economical aspect of electric car ownership. Though some EV’s may be pricier because of market forces, they’re cheaper to build and with fewer parts. An added bonus is that they’re also cheaper to maintain for the same reason. When prospective car buyers explore their next vehicle purchase, they also look at the comfort aspect – and electric cars can provide that with minimal road noise and an almost-silent motor, leading to a more stress-free environment. Consumers, especially those in the 18-34 age bracket, are scooping up EV’s since manufacturers have brought more choices to market while keeping prices competitive with their gas-powered counterparts.

We’re in an era where electric vehicles have changed more in the past 5 years, than they did during the entire 20th century. Nearly every major automotive brand is producing at least one electric vehicle, and charging station infrastructure continues to grow at a rapid rate. According to the Department of Energy2, if all light-duty vehicles in the US were hybrid or plug-in electric, we would reduce our dependence on foreign oil by 30-60 percent, while lowering carbon pollution from transportation by as much as 20 percent. The successes of electric vehicles today offer a breeding ground for the electric vehicle industry, and prove that electric vehicles are here to stay.

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Intern Experience, Summer Intern Series

Summer Intern Series: Michael Laoye

New York Power Authority’s (NYPA) intern program provides top college students with the opportunity to gain broad experience working for the nation’s largest public power organization.

Michael Laoye is a senior at Pennsylvania State University, pursuing a degree in Electrical Engineering with a focus on Power Systems. He is currently working in the White Plains office in the Electrical Engineering department.

Presently, I am working on the operations of transformers and any faults associated with it. More specifically, I am building a database that will help determine the defects of transformers before and after the fault occurs. These defects are determined through DGA. DGA, or dissolved gas analysis, is a tool many professionals in the power industry use to detect faults in transformers. I intend on using this tool to our advantage here at NYPA to help in our diagnostics of transformers. My mentor, James Sheldon, has been beneficial throughout this process and has taught me the intricacies of transformers. With the knowledge I have learned, I hope to make this database a useful source for NYPA.

Coming into the power industry I had no expectations, other than it is a great career path to choose. Everyone has heard the saying, “Everyone needs electricity.” This saying is one of the reasons why I wanted to work in the power industry, especially NYPA. I wanted to assist in NYPA’s goal of providing low-cost, clean, and reliable power.

So far, it has been a great experience visiting several facilities, such as the St. Lawrence Power Project and the 500MW Power Plant, and learning what each site has to offer. Before my internship comes to an end, I’ll have more knowledge about the power industry than I came in with. I am grateful for having this opportunity to contribute towards NYPA’s goal and working with remarkable people, in addition to my mentor, such as Kathryn O’Toole and Natasha Owczarek, who both have been very helpful in this process.

In my spare time, I enjoy being active and learning about automobiles. I take pleasure in playing basketball, football, and going to the gym. I also appreciate the fine cars that the automobile industry has to offer, especially the Tesla Model S which is every engineer’s dream.

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Intern Experience, Summer Intern Series

Summer Intern Series: Maziar Vanouni

New York Power Authority’s (NYPA) intern program provides top college students with the opportunity to gain broad experience working for the nation’s largest public power organization.

Maziar Vanouni is a fourth-year graduate student at North Carolina State University pursuing his Ph.D. in Electrical Power Engineering. He works in the Research and Technology Development Department at the White Plains Office.

This summer, I am working on a research project in collaboration with some of the R&TD staff as well as participating in some technical meetings with research companies and institutes. My research at NYPA involves developing and implementing a real-time voltage stability evaluation method using a wide area measurement system (WAMS). This project will help provide online monitoring of the power grid’s power transfer capability.

As an intern, I hope to learn about the different perspectives of various industries and utilities, whether in their objectives, concerns, or communication skills.

In my opinion, being at NYPA has helped me develop a better picture of what a utility needs and expects from its employees and I am so glad about it.

I see my career goal as being a researcher involved in those kinds of energy related problems which are of practical concern and values for utilities—I believe NYPA has helped in that sense.

Outside of work and school, I generally like hanging out with friends, being in nature for any excuse (with special interest in fishing), traveling, and seeing different people.

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Intern Experience, Summer Intern Series

Summer Intern Series: Miriam Gonzalez

New York Power Authority’s (NYPA) intern program provides top college students with the opportunity to gain broad experience working for the nation’s largest public power organization.

Miriam Gonzalez is a senior at SUNY Maritime College pursuing her B.E. in Electrical Engineering. She works in the Metering Department at the 500-MW Combined-Cycle Power Plant in Astoria, Queens.

My responsibilities include daily review of meter data and transmitting this data to the Energy Control Center (ECC). Additionally, I test advanced smart meters before they are installed in the field, and I work on meter block diagrams through the analysis of engineering drawings. I have had the opportunity to be involved in the Build Smart NY (BSNY) Metering Upgrade project to provide interval metering to NYPA onsite buildings to track and evaluate our energy efficiency. In this project, I had the opportunity to do a walkthrough of one of the NYPA power generation facilities, Blenheim-Gilboa (BG) Pumped Storage Power Project. From there, I created a preliminary scope and then did a man-hour and material cost estimate, which all went into the scope. Working on this gave me a glimpse of what goes into a large scale project.

Currently, I am working on the St. Lawrence (STL) Park Station Service meter upgrades. This project requires I test the meters for accuracy and set up communication with MV-90, our interval data collection software. I also program these meters; each meter may require a very specific program. While I joined this project at its tail-end, I have received a good sense of what goes into installing meters with this project, as well a greater understanding of how many different meters work.

Working with NYPA has challenged me in many ways by exposing me to aspects of engineering that I have never experienced before. I have had opportunities to write technical documents for projects, while still being able to see the inner workings of a facility. I hope to learn a little bit about each NYPA power generation facility.

I’ve always enjoyed wiring and taking things apart. In my spare time, I like playing video games with my friends, bicycling, and drawing.

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energy efficiency, NYPA Initiatives, Sustainability

Daylight Hour at NYPA

By Jill Anderson, SVP of Public Affairs & Business Development

As a public benefit corporation and a leader in clean energy generation, NYPA is always looking to reduce electricity use, particularly during the peak demand summer season, and improve the overall efficiency of its operations. The Daylight Hour initiative provides an excellent opportunity to promote energy efficiency in the workplace and to start a meaningful dialogue with employees about energy consumption and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

We often overlook the seemingly minuscule amount of energy it takes to power our lights, coffee machines, computers, phones, and other office loads. Daylight Hour and similar energy efficiency campaigns highlight simple ways of reducing our energy footprint in the workplace. Last year, NYPA leveraged the momentum achieved from Daylight Hour to launch our own annual campaign called “Efficiency Fridays.” With this initiative, we are successfully promoting energy efficient practices throughout the summer.

Like other workplace sustainability and energy efficiency initiatives, Daylight Hour depends on employee engagement. We use clear, concise language to convey the idea that participation is easy and will not disrupt work. Our message is simple: Turn off lights in day-lit areas to save energy.

Daylight Hour is promoted through several different communication channels. We place posters near elevators, add postings to our intranet, send out a text message reminder to employees 15 minutes prior to the event, and make an announcement over the loud speakers as we approach the start of the hour. In addition, our social media team creates a buzz on Twitter and Instagram to help relay the Daylight Hour message to thousands of NYPA’s followers. The unsung heroes of our successful participation are the members of NYPA’s Green Team, who rally their colleagues to turn off their lights.

NYPA’s Sustainability Office carefully monitors the energy usage in our 17-story White Plains administrative office building through the Power Authority’s NY Energy Manager, a statewide, real-time energy management system. To inspire friendly competition, we track the electricity reduced by each floor and post the results on the intranet. In addition to floor-by-floor energy comparisons, we track whole building energy performance and, more specifically, the reduction in the building’s total lighting load. The results have been astonishing (even our energy experts think so)! As illustrated by the graph below, we successfully reduced our building’s total lighting load by 33% or 25 kWh. That savings only represents an hour. These numbers are encouraging us to consider how much we could save if we incorporated daylighting into our regular routine.

The total lighting load of NYPA’s White Plains Office, as measured by NY Energy Manager.

The total lighting load of NYPA’s White Plains Office, as measured by NY Energy Manager.

Through Daylight Hour, we have learned valuable lessons about what it takes to engage our employees and successfully communicate the importance of sustainable workplace practices. NYPA employees are willing to get involved in workplace initiatives, but it takes consistent effort to keep them focused on what needs to be achieved. Throughout this effort, we have been inspired to explore a range of strategies and to become bolder and more creative in our approach and our message.

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Life of a Lightbulb

Life of a Lightbulb: George Washington Bridge

Did you know the George Washington Bridge carries across over 106 million cars per year? That’s pretty cool! Leddy the LED lightbulb here.

Back in 2009, my friends and I decided that the George Washington Bridge needed some new lights, so we replaced the existing necklace lighting with energy-efficient LED necklace lighting. The lighting helps to reduce glare for drivers, but the real benefit is that they require less maintenance, which leads to less opportunity for maintenance workers to experience a safety-related accident. This also leads to less traffic jams due to lane closures for maintenance. Nearly 200 of my friends were installed, which will lead to the elimination of almost 90 tons of greenhouse gases from our environment.

My friends and I encourage you to learn more about NYPA’s many Energy Efficiency projects. You might also want to look into replacing your bulbs with our family of LED bulbs – we come in all shapes and sizes and we always have bright ideas!

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Life of a Lightbulb

Life of a Lightbulb: SUNY University at Buffalo

Who’s up for a game of football? I know I am. It’s Leddy the LED lightbulb again!

This time, my friends and I are at SUNY Buffalo’s 31,000-seat football stadium. We worked with our friends at NYPA to help give them a new lighting system, including new, energy-efficient lights. Their lighting controls now allow for three different levels of lighting. Level 1 is used during practice, when less light is needed. Level 2 is used for non-broadcasted games, where Level 3 is extra-bright for HD broadcasting enhancement. Their lighting upgrades will help cut over 3,500 tons of greenhouses gases per year from the environment. (Personally, I like Level 3 so I can watch it on TV!)

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