At the New York Energy Highway Summit this week, Mike Gordon, NWEAC Program Directory, and I represented northern Westchester and took lots of notes.
In Mike’s words, here is the take-away, “When the new Energy Highway is built here in New York, we need northern Westchester to land its own on-off ramp.”
What’s the Energy Highway?
The New York Energy Highway is a strategic plan being launched this year to build new electric transmission lines, repower aging power plants for higher efficiency, and build new plants, including renewables.
Or in the words of the state’s website: “a sweeping public-private initiative to upgrade and modernize New York State’s electric power system.”
Why do we need it?
As Stephen Whitby, NYISO President and CEO, stated at the Summit, “New York’s grid has bottlenecks that keep renewables from benefitting the downstate load pocket. The transmission system has to be rebuilt over the next few years.
Jim Laurito, President of Central Hudson Gas & Electric, put it this way, “Of our state’s 12,000 miles of transmission lines, 40% are over 40 years old and in need of replacement. Our upstate highway is not wide enough to carry power to the New York City area.”
Upgrading the transmission system will help drive energy efficiency throughout the system, even before electricity reaches the end-user. For example, Laurito explained, “Today we have to create and over-deliver higher voltage than needed to compensate for line loss. But with new or upgraded lines that use voltage optimization technology within a smart grid, we can drop 3% of our over-delivery state-wide. That is a huge savings.”
But leave it to the engineer on the panel to find the day’s most interesting data points.
Arshad Mansoor of the Electric Power Research Institute asked the summit’s audience, “How many of you have iPads, tablets, or smart phones?”
Mike and I raised our hands, as did virtually everyone in Lerner Auditorium.
“Did you know, the new iPad has nearly double the battery capacity of the old iPad. Apple put a 42.5 watt-hour battery in the new iPad, where the prior version had a 25 watt-hour battery.”
Of course, Apple needed a more powerful battery to run its stunning new high-definition, and more power hungry display. Both the old and new iPad have the same battery life, of “[u]p to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi-Fi, watching video, or listening to music.”
“The second data point,” Mansoor continued, “is that Apple has sold 3 million new iPads already. If you do the math, the new battery’s power demand is the equivalent of adding 7,000 new homes to the power grid.”
Here is the big connection: The transportation sector has always been quick to adopt technology breakthroughs for power density and miniaturization that originate in the personal computing sector. Think of how common touch screens on car dashboards are these days.
We will electrify our fleet of personal or business vehicles over the next 5 to 10 years. As we do that, we’ll be stopping at the pump less and stopping at the plug more.
Ergo, Mike’s point: we want to plug and play in the energy highway here in northern Westchester. As we plug in our cars, we’ll like the grid to be ready.