New York, other officials plan stronger power grid for Puerto Rico

The plan is based on New York's power grid renovations that state underwent following 2012's Hurricane Sandy

Content Dam Elp Online Articles 2017 12 Puerto Rico Power Grid Dec 13 Elp

Officials in Puerto Rico and New York unveiled a plan to modernize the island territory's power grid following the widespread devastation of Hurricane Maria.

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said a greater amount of federal aid to the territory could establish a storm-hardened power grid based on renewable energy.

The plan is based on New York's power grid renovations that state underwent following 2012's Hurricane Sandy, which was the second-costliest hurricane in US history.

"The rebuild recommendations are based on experience with power system recovery, rebuilding, and hardening from hurricanes encountered on the US mainland over the last decade. The recommendations include the use of modern technology and incorporate lessons learned from the successful rebuild efforts in other regions post natural disasters, such as Hurricane Sandy in New York," according to a report released Monday by the governors, FEMA, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, and a host of US mainland utilities and Department of Energy national laboratories.

The assault of Maria is an opportunity to build a more resilient power grid that also pollutes less, according to the authors of the report.

"A transformed electric power system for Puerto Rico is one that is designed with the resiliency to withstand future storms and is built with modern grid technologies and control systems," according to the report.

Specifically, the plan calls for: smart grid investments, microgrid technology, undergrounding power lines, upgrading and reinforcing power poles, effective vegetation management techniques, and installing controls systems for distributed energy, among other measures.

The plan has an estimated cost of about $17.6 billion. Cuomo and Rosselló have asked the federal government for nearly $95 billion in total recovery funds, separate from the power grid plan.

Transmission lines could be strengthened with new metal monopole towers and high-strength insulators. Damaged transmission lines were one cause of widespread outages after Maria.

The plan also calls for flood-resistant electrical substations, as was done in the New York City area after Sandy. Upgrades to the distribution system include new concrete and galvanized steel poles and a new control center.

On the power generation front, the plan would relocate power facilities located near the ocean or rivers.

The plan also includes using advanced sensors and intelligent fault interrupting devices and developing a condition-based asset management program.

"One of the key features of the ‘build back better’ strategy is to rebuild the T&D system using design standards capable of withstanding high Category 4 storms, with sufficient design margins to ensure high survivability for Category 5 events in areas where damage is most likely to occur," according to the report.

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