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Grassroots Bulletin

June Newsletter

Craig Ivey Announces New Gas Safety Technology       

Last month Con Edison President Craig Ivey testified before the New York State Assembly Committee on Energy and the Assembly Committee on Corporations to explain the company’s efforts regarding gas safety.

Ivey emphasized in his testimony the importance of someone calling 911 right away if they smell gas.  If a member of the public smells smoke, or sees a car accident or even a crime being committed, Ivey explained, they don’t think twice about calling 911.  New Yorkers should treat an odor of gas the same way. 

Ivey told members of both committees that while Con Edison meets or exceeds federal and state codes for gas leak inspections, our engineers have been looking at ways to substantially increase the number of gas leak patrols.  Con Edison uses specially outfitted vehicles to survey 4,300 miles of gas mains at least once a year, and more frequently during severe weather. 

Ivey went on to announce that Con Edison will launch a pilot program combining gas leak testing equipment and voltage detection equipment in the same vehicles, facilitating more patrols across the city.  If successful, Ivey said the program will "substantially increase the number of gas leak patrols" each year, Mr. Ivey said.

Ivey said the utility has a fleet of vehicles that scan for stray electric charges on street objects, such as streetlights and manhole covers. The new pilot program would allow the company to scan for both gas leaks and the presence of any stray electricity at the same time.

The company is also considering technology "that allows us to simultaneously survey both gas mains under the street, and gas service lines under the sidewalk," Ivey said.

He also addressed the East Harlem tragedy of March 12, in his testimony, saying, "We want to get to the bottom of what happened, and we must do all we can to prevent the chance of anything like that from happening again."

Con Edison delivers gas to approximately 1 million customers in Manhattan, parts of Queens, the Bronx and Westchester County.  The company is responsible for maintaining 88 miles of gas transmission lines, and 4,300 miles of distribution gas mains.  Con Edison also maintains almost 368,000 gas service lines that run from the street to a building.

The company has redoubled efforts on gas maintenance and leak detection practices.  Con Edison also educates the public through a multi-lingual campaign about the importance of calling the company or 911 right away if they smell gas.  The gas safety awareness campaign has been further enhanced through print, radio, and digital outlets while Con Edison’s homepage features gas safety messages, and multi-lingual gas safety videos that are also promoted on social media.

The Assembly committees asked Ivey about the Company’s progress replacing cast iron and unprotected steel pipes.  Ivey explained that Con Edison has nearly doubled the replacement program in recent years, investing approximately $500 million each year on gas infrastructure and steel/cast iron replacement.  Ivey explained that we will spend an average of $215 million annually over the next three years replacing gas mains. 

Con Edison plans to replace an average of 65 miles of priority pipe segments in each of the next three years while also taking advantage of opportunities to replace sections of pipe when the streets are excavated for other reasons. 

NYISO Unveils New Control Center and Grid Technology  


The Department of Energy (DOE) recently recognized the completion of the New York Independent System Operator’s (NYISO) smart grid and control center project in Rensselaer, New York.  The $75 million project will use advanced technology to locate grid problems at an early stage and share data with NYISO’s regional partners. This should mean fewer blackouts for the State of New York.

Con Edison CEO John McAvoy was present for the ribbon cutting and opening ceremony, as was Assistant Secretary for Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability Patricia Hoffman.  They both joined with public and private sector partners in New York to dedicate a new grid operations control center and highlight how federal Recovery Act-supported investments have strengthened the system’s overall reliability and resiliency.

With support from the federal Recovery Act, the DOE has partnered with utilities across the United States to deploy sophisticated grid sensors – known as synchrophasors – that monitor the flow of electricity with unprecedented precision and provide near-real-time information on the grid’s health and security. It may sound like a word out of science fiction, but these mailbox-sized devices are already changing the electrical grid as we know it.  The DOE has worked with utilities across the country to increase the number of synchrophasors five-fold – from less than 200 in 2009 to over 1,700 today.

The measurements synchrophasors provide will allow system operators and owners to identify and respond to potential disturbances quickly and effectively – improving overall grid reliability, safeguarding against power outages and enabling faster restoration of power.  Not only will synchrophasors help prevent outages, but they also save money.  By providing more accurate and timely data on system limits, synchrophasors help reduce planning and operations costs.

Leveraging a $38 million Recovery Act investment, NYISO, Con Edison and other New York State-based utilities, have deployed the new synchrophasors as well as advanced smart grid technologies. The project also installed advanced software that will help NYISO engineers conduct extensive and detailed system modeling and analysis. The new control center will give NYISO and neighboring grid control areas a far more expansive and in-depth view of the power grid.

In partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy through a 2009 grant, Con Edison has invested nearly $300 million in technologies that increase grid operators’ real-time visibility of grid conditions, improve operational flexibility, enhance reliability, and strengthen our systems. At the same time, these improvements enable customers and grid operators to more seamlessly integrate on-site distributed generation into the grid and make more effective use of demand-side management programs.

Con Edison Mentors Help Students Prepare for Careers in Architecture, Construction and Engineering  


Throughout the 2013 school year, a diverse group of twelve high school students and Con Edison employees have been meeting monthly to work together on a design project through the ACE Mentor Program.  ACE, which stands for architecture, construction and engineering is a not-for-profit organization which helps prepare high school students for careers in design and construction.  ACE New York has grown to over 30 teams, over 100 firms and has helped prepare more than 700 students in New York City, Long Island and Westchester for careers in STEM. 

Opening up the final presentation program last week, Bob Schimmenti, Con Edison’s vice president of engineering and planning and ACE Board member, remarked on his involvement with the organization and pointed to Con Edison as one of New York City’s largest employers of construction and engineering jobs.  

Over 200 students, parents and professionals in architecture, construction and engineering gathered in Con Edison’s auditorium to hear students from five teams present their project designs and respond to questions from design experts.   Students must plan and design innovative projects mirroring “real-world” conditions with mentors helping them develop solutions.  The program helps students acquire new knowledge and build the skills and relationships college admissions officers and employers are looking for.  Mentors also get the benefit of helping students and developing their own communication and presentation skills. 

Con Edison’s team leader Adrianne Ortizo describes the program as, “all about opportunities.  For the students, the ACE Mentor Program provides an experience that goes beyond the classroom, giving them the chance to work alongside real professionals in a real working environment.  For the mentors, it’s a way for us to give back, and cater to those students who show an early interest in the ACE disciplines.  For the Company, we are proud to participate and support the ACE initiative, ensuring a new generation of talent and their advancement in the industry.” 

Con Edison’s Mentor Team: 
Adrianne Ortizo (Team Leader) – Office of the Vice President of Engineering and Planning
Noricia Anderson – Regional Planning
Jacqueline Carbone – Distribution Engineering
Michael Harrington – Energy Efficiency and Demand Management
Robert Mayou – Gas Engineering
Ronald Pietrowski – Civil/Mechanical Engineering
Sergio Rodriguez – Regional Planning
Luciano Villani – Project Engineering  






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