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ABB digitises critical NYC substation

Storm protection measures and grid resiliency features are expected to improve power reliability and mitigate outages

420kV PASS switchgear module on elevated stand for storm protection
420kV PASS switchgear module on elevated stand for storm protection

ABB has completed a major digital upgrade to a critical New York City substation

The substation's elevated design will help to protect against future storm damage

ABB has completed a major upgrade of a key substation in New York City.


The bulk power substation supplies electricity to hundreds of thousands of customers in lower Manhattan and the refurbishment involved replacing conventional pieces of power equipment with digitally-enabled technology.


The work was carried out in collaboration with energy utility Con Edison.


The area suffered significant flood damage from the saltwater storm surge of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, resulting in widespread power outages. Con Edison has since invested heavily to safeguard its power infrastructure, including the protection of substations by reinforcing perimeter walls, gates and floodwalls.


“The digital transformation of this critical substation and additional weather-fortification measures will bring greater grid resiliency and improve reliability of power supplies to Manhattan’s consumers”, said Claudio Facchin, president of ABB’s power grids division.


“Enabling digitalisation of the power grid is a core element of our next level strategy and we are committed to supporting our customers with the latest technologies to facilitate this effort.”


According to ABB, Con Edison’s adherence to IEC 61850-based open communication standards makes it possible to interconnect a very large system with a multi-vendor installation base.


This also enables extraction of critical asset data and mining of business intelligence to make faster decisions in a crisis. Equally importantly, it facilitates a shift from traditional time-based maintenance to condition-based maintenance.


The new elevated design with a modular 420 kilovolts (kV) plug and switch system (PASS) hybrid switchgear is installed more than 35 feet (10 metres) above the original substation level, to further help avoid the normal path of super storms.


PASS enables a 50 per cent space saving and incorporates special rotating bushings that facilitates transportation and fast on-site installation, said ABB.


These storm protection measures and grid resiliency features are expected to improve power reliability and mitigate outages. As part of the latest digital upgrade by ABB, some 80 per cent of the copper control cabling has been rendered obsolete and has been replaced by a few fibre optic cables.


“We had to take great care in switching over from multiple layers of legacy control systems, some of which had been compromised by Hurricane Sandy’s floodwaters, to the new automated system,” added Sanjay Bose, vice president of central engineering, Con Edison.


“Our engineers maintained an ongoing dialogue with ABB’s team throughout the design, testing and installation stages. Collectively, with great attention to detail, we were able to put phase one into service on schedule, within budget, without accident or injury.”



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