Federal, state and local government and energy industry leaders gathered last week to celebrate the completion of construction of the New York Independent System Operator‘s (NYISO) new, $38 million primary power control center, which features the latest digital monitoring technologies to strengthen grid reliability and security throughout the state and region.

Located adjacent to the NYISO’s headquarters in Rensselaer County, the 64,000-square-foot control facility serves as the primary operations and control center for the non-profit NYISO, which oversees New York’s bulk electricity grid and wholesale electricity markets.

“Our new control center will help us meet the 21st century’s grid reliability requirements through the use of the latest control technologies and state-of-the-art visual displays that are designed to improve the NYISO’s ability to receive, process and monitor changing conditions throughout the region,” said Stephen G. Whitley, the NYISO’s president and CEO. “Reliable operation of the grid requires constant vigilance – balancing the supply of power with consumer demand for electricity on a moment-to-moment basis – every hour of the day, every day of the year.”

Government and business leaders praised the opening of the new control center for the supporting role it plays in creating a stronger economy.

“Today, we’re not just opening a state-of-the-art facility, but we’re flipping the switch on a major cost-saver for residents throughout New York state,” said New York’s senior U.S. senator, Charles Schumer. “This new digital control center will save ratepayers hundreds of millions of dollars every year, and help stave off the kind of blackouts that can cripple wide swathes of the state and drive the economy to a total stand-still. NYISO has recognized the importance of creating a 21st century grid to support our 21st century economy here in New York, and the opening of this facility is a major component of that effort.”

The new control center’s 2,300-square-foot video wall is the largest such utility installation in North America. Displaying a massive representation of the state’s electric grid, the video wall provides more than 3,000 live status points presenting key electric system operations data and information. Regional electric system information, weather and lightning-strike data, power demand forecasts and other information can be customized for display to assist operators in forecasting and mitigating potential system disturbances.

The new primary control center supports a number of key energy goals, including:

  • Enabling improved integration of renewable energy supplies by deploying renewable resource management tools such as wind forecasts, meteorological conditions and generation output data to better assess and employ variable wind and solar renewable power resources.
  • Maintaining reliability while managing the growing complexity of modern electric grid operations through smart grid technology that integrates and processes significantly higher volumes of data.
  • Implementing the NYISO’s broader regional markets initiative that will provide New York with approximately $190 million in annual savings through mechanisms that eliminate market barriers and optimize resources among regions.

The new facility replaces the NYISO’s existing 44-year-old power control center in the town of Guilderland in western Albany County. Systems at the Guilderland facility also have been upgraded, allowing it to serve as fully functional backup control center.

This state-of-the-art facility also harnesses grid control technologies installed in the NYISO’s smart grid project, which was funded in part by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Completed last June, the project was conducted in partnership with transmission-owning utilities and power authorities, and involved extensive collaboration among contractors, stakeholders, and government agencies. It successfully deployed phasor measurement units (PMUs) that can improve grid operators’ ability to more quickly detect irregularities, predict problems and take corrective action to maintain reliability.

The Smart Grid New York PMU network relays system conditions at a rate of 60 times per second – 360 faster than before, giving grid operators greater ability to detect irregularities and take corrective action. The project also included installation of capacitor banks to improve transmission system efficiency by reducing line losses. Completion of the control center projects and DOE-funded smart grid initiative will allow the NYISO to better fulfill its core mission of maintaining reliability of the state’s bulk power system and operating economically efficient wholesale markets.