New York seeks comments on Con Edison resiliency report by January 2014

New York state regulators are seeking comments by Jan. 10, 2014, on Consolidated Edison Company of New York’s (Con Edison) storm hardening and resiliency collaborative report, which involves the company’s plans to invest about $1bn to improve the resiliency of the electric and gas delivery systems and the electric and steam generating stations.

The collaborative parties include Consolidated Edison’s (NYSE:ED) subsidiary Con Edison, the state Department of Public Service (DPS) staff, state Office of the Attorney General and New York City, according to the Dec. 4 report filed with the state Public Service Commission (PSC) on Dec. 4 (Cases 13-E-0030, 13-G-0031, 13-S-0032).

The report noted that to protect the company’s customers, the region and energy systems from future natural disasters, Con Edison filed in January electric, gas and steam rate cases that include proposals for a $1bn investment in new capital initiatives for 2013 through 2016 to mitigate impacts of future extreme weather.

The damage to the electric system following Superstorm Sandy, which hit the East Coast in October 2012, caused service outages to more than 1.1m customers.

In the rate cases, a number of parties filed expert testimony urging Con Edison to expedite storm hardening investments and to incorporate new climate change information into system planning. In addition, regulatory staff’s policy panel recommended that Con Edison convene a collaborative of interested parties to consider, for instance, the company’s storm hardening proposals as well as similar efforts being planned by infrastructure owners in the company’s service territory.

Con Edison said it is presenting the report to the state Public Service Commission (PSC) to summarize the collaborative’s work, to recommend further initiatives for the collaborative in 2014, to describe resiliency work that has been performed during 2013 and to present for the PSC’s consideration Con Edison’s proposed plans for resiliency work to begin during 2014 to 2016.

The collaborative parties were to file comments on the report on Dec. 20. However, on Dec. 12, Eleanor Stein, PSC administrative law judge, ruled that the deadline be extended until Jan. 10, following a request by the state Department of Public Service (DPS) staff.

Through the collaborative process, Con Edison said it received feedback and insights that it believes will strengthen its resiliency plans and improve its service to the communities it serves.

For instance, Con Edison will design flood protection projects to be started during 2014 through 2016 based on the 1% annual flood hazard elevation – 100-year floodplain – established by the Federal Emergency Management Administration.

Also, Con Edison has amended its risk assessment model to incorporate a storm surge inundation prediction model developed by the New York City Mayor’s Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability.

Additionally, the company will conduct a climate change vulnerability study, which seeks to synthesize current views on climate change, identify the design basis/infrastructure that might be affected and develop a shared understanding among collaborative participants.

Furthermore, Con Edison will continue to consider resiliency in its design, installation, operation and maintenance of facilities and equipment.

Con Edison added that the collaborative has developed a future agenda including that Working Group 1: Storm hardening design standards and 2014 projects in Phase 2 will sponsor Con Edison’s 2014 climate change vulnerability study and examine Con Edison’s storm hardening project plans under development for initiation in 2015, including undergrounding of electric overhead distribution facilities, tunnel hardening, gas main replacement in flood zones and steam distribution projects.

On substations, Con Edison noted that five transmission substations were shut down due to Sandy, adding that in total, 14 Manhattan networks, one Brooklyn network and three Staten Island load areas were shut down by the storm. Many of those outages were the result of flooding at substations, the company said, adding that by fortifying its substations, “we mitigate the impact of weather events across multiple networks.”

Con Edison’s 2014 to 2016 storm hardening plans include 16 substations such as Avenue A, East 13th Street and East River in Manhattan. To harden its substations in the 2014-2016 timeframe, Con Edison is installing new emergency diesel generators elevated above the flood-control level as well as new high-capacity flood control pumps, among other things.

Capital expenditures for those substation initiatives are projected to total $240m, which includes $30m in 2013, $60m in 2014, $70m in 2015 and $80m in 2016.

The company also said that as a result of Sandy, its overhead distribution system was affected by wind and tree damage that interrupted service to 604,603 – about 70% – of the 868,347 non-network customers supplied from the overhead distribution systems in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Westchester County operating areas.

Among other things Con Edison said that to reduce the number and duration of weather-related outages, it is enhancing the resiliency of its electric overhead distribution system during 2013 to 2016 by, for instance, selectively undergrounding overhead components to protect critical and/or susceptible circuits.

Capital expenditures for those electric overhead distribution initiatives are projected to total $261.6m, including $19.6m in 2013, $15m in 2014, $115m in 2015 and $112m in 2016, the company said.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3152 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares, chief editor for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 15 years. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines. She can be reached at clinares@endeavorb2b.com.