Con Edison has made major investments to protect its underground and overhead energy delivery systems from major storms, measures that will help limit power outages and speed service restoration to customers.

Company officials, showcasing new equipment, higher perimeter walls and other storm protections at its 14th Street East River complex in Manhattan, outlined plans to invest $1 billion on storm protection measures over the next four years in New York City and in Westchester County.

The utility said the investments include more than $475 million on its electric distribution system. The design and equipment improvements will help limit damage from major storms, and reduce the number and duration of customer outages.

Superstorm Sandy caused more than one million power outages, affecting approximately one-third of the utility’s customers late last year.

"Sandy caused incredible damage to our energy delivery systems, disrupting the lives of millions of New Yorkers," said Con Edison Chairman and CEO Kevin Burke. "While we recognize that these weather events represent a 'new normal,' our goal through our investments is to lessen the hardships that violent weather causes for our customers."

Con Edison said it would pursue burying approximately 30 miles of overhead power lines in New York City and Westchester County in 2015 and 2016, at a cost of approximately $200 million. Undergrounding all 35,000 miles of the company’s overhead systems would cost approximately $60 billion.

Major elements of Con Edison’s storm improvement plans include:

  • Building concrete flood barriers around critical equipment and higher perimeter walls around substations.
  • Installing flood gates at tunnel openings.
  • Installing additional submersible electrical equipment in flood-prone areas of the electric distribution system.
  • Redesigning two underground electrical networks in lower Manhattan and one serving coastal communities in Brooklyn. The new smart grid designs will allow the company to pre-emptively de-energize customers in flood-prone areas, restore power faster when floodwaters recede, while keeping customers in the surrounding areas with power.
  • Installing hundreds of remote “smart” switches to isolate damaged equipment to help reduce the number of homes that lose power when a tree knocks down a power cable; and installing stronger, tree-branch resistant aerial cable.
  • Installing utility poles in storm-prone areas that are 15 percent stronger and able to withstand wind gusts of up to 110 mph.
  • Deploying thousands of overhead isolation devices to reduce customer outages and facilitate faster restoration.
  • Installing additional high-powered flood pumps in advance of storms.
  • Deploying water-resistant sealant in conduits containing electrical circuits.
  • Installing special float-check valves to protect gas services from floods.
  • Replacing cast iron and steel gas pipes in flood prone areas.
  • Strengthening communications for gas control and monitoring systems.

Ready for Summer

In addition to the storm improvements, Con Edison is investing $1.2 billion this year overall to upgrade its electric delivery system and enhance reliability for hot summer months.

The electric peak demand forecast for this summer in Con Edison’s service area is 13,200 megawatts (MW), with a projected peak of 11,485 MW for New York City and 1,715 MW for Westchester County. The record peak - 13,189 MW - was set on July 22, 2011 at 4 p.m. In-city power supplies are more than sufficient to meet the 86 percent in-city generation requirement.

System-wide improvements underway include installation of 31 network transformers, six new feeders, 207 overhead transformers, and reinforcement of 46 feeders, 100 underground sections and 250 overhead spans. Upgrades to two unit substations also are in progress.