Thursday, August 10, 2017

New York state orders Con Edison to guarantee subway power reliability

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New York state orders Con Edison to guarantee subway power reliability Marc A. Hermann/MTA New York City Transit

Due to recent repeated delays and power flow failures throughout the entire Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) subway system, the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) has directed Con Edison to take significant and immediate actions to improve the subway's power reliability.

According to the PSC, during the past 12 months alone, power-related issues have caused more than 32,000 subway delays and service disruptions. PSC says the outages stem from four problem areas including: loss of power, frequent surges in power that force the system to go into failsafe mode (shutdown), frequent power dips which cause equipment to fail and an insufficient power back up system in the event of a power failure.

To address these issues, PSC has ordered Con Edison to perform the necessary remediation in coordination with the MTA that PSC will monitor on a weekly basis. PSC set what it refers to as an "aggressive" timeline for the work to be done: six months for priority projects, nine months for second priority and the entire project completed within one year. Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), an independent, nonprofit organization for public interest energy research, will act as the agent and consultant to PSC and WSP will act as the agent and consultant to the MTA. Work will be performed seven days per week until the project is complete.

"This is the most comprehensive power review ever done, literally testing and repairing the entire power flow system," PSC said in a release. "The objective is the inspection and repair of the entire system, including traction power substations, manholes, cables, property line boxes, energy distribution rooms, signal relay rooms, signal junction boxes, track, signals, track side equipment and interlockings."

Troubling failures of electrical equipment were first identified back in April and May of this year, raising questions about the quality of electricity provided throughout the MTA system.

"To repair the MTA, we must also focus on the services that the MTA relies upon," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. "The number one necessity is a reliable power supply. That must be provided by Con Edison. Over the years there have been band aids placed all over the system. We need to fundamentally upgrade the entire system. I thank Con Edison for their cooperation."