– John O’Connell, Vice President-Transmission and Distribution Operations
Our job at PSEG Long Island is to ensure customers have the reliable electric system they need to power their lives, and to be ready to respond to any situation when needed, pandemic or no pandemic. As the summer arrives, we are ready to meet peak demand during extreme heat situations and to respond to extreme weather because we have been making strategic investments in the electric infrastructure for six years.
Even amid the uncertainty of the public health crisis, we have adapted our procedures and found ways to keep improving electric reliability at a time when our lives require it more than ever.
Upgrading to handle the demand
Operating under our COVID-19 pandemic plan, we have been strongly focused on summer preparation improvements to substations and transmission and distribution equipment, as well as inspections of existing circuits and equipment using drones and helicopters equipped with infrared technology.
Here are a few of the upgrades we have made in recent months:
- New transformers installed in Hauppauge, Elmont, Hempstead, and Malverne substations to provide additional capacity during peak demand
- New distribution feeder lines installed in North Lindenhurst and Rockaway Beach areas to accommodate load growth
- Distribution circuits upgraded in Riverhead, Mineola, Carle Place, Massapequa, and Rockaway Beach to improve circuit reliability
- A voltage regulation device installed at the Whiteside substation to optimize power flow in the area
- Two capacitor banks installed at our Deer Park and MacArthur substations to support voltage locally and provide quality power to the respective areas
- 26 transmission system circuit breakers added or replaced for enhanced system reliability
Strengthening against storms
The ability to handle peak electric demand is only part of what it takes to be ready for summer. We have all seen the kind of damage storms can cause to electric infrastructure. PSEG Long Island has been working hard since 2014 to storm-harden more than 1,000 miles of the most vulnerable distribution circuits on Long Island and in the Rockaways with stronger poles, stronger wires, smart switches and better-designed crossarms. This FEMA-funded program has significantly reduced storm damage and cut outages by 45% on circuits we have hardened.
While I am proud to say that this FEMA work is now 99% complete, I am also pleased to say that PSEG Long Island is not resting on its laurels. This spring, we launched Power On, a new initiative that will continue this essential storm-hardening work along even more distribution circuits over the next five years.
Clearing the wires
Investing in stronger poles and wires is important, and so is proper vegetation management. The arborists in our Tree Trimming program work throughout the year to identify and trim tree limbs in rights of way and along easements that could potentially cause outages during or after a storm. In 2019, PSEG Long Island removed more than 11,000 hazardous trees and/or large limbs along the distribution and transmission system and trimmed 3,000 miles of distribution and transmission line clearance in accordance with the industry best practice clearance standard. This preserves the health of the tree and directs future growth away from power lines. In addition, a new vine mitigation program identified, cut and treated more than 3,000 vine locations.
Preparing our people
Finally, we don’t just prepare the system. We also make sure our people are ready. We conduct annual hurricane and tropical storm drills and employee training; develop emergency summer operating plans; and perform summer peak reliability analyses so everyone knows how to respond to a wide range of scenarios.
This summer, as Long Island begins to reopen, we will all find reassurance in much-missed sights and sounds. As our customers venture out, they can also find reassurance in the fact that PSEG Long Island never stopped working to power these moments with safe, reliable electric service.