The New York Power Authority recently released a report of its sustainability plan addressing such concerns as carbon emissions, water conservation, renewable energy and green buildings.
The plan was introduced in 2010 and measures progress on 39 action items.
“The need to operate in a more sustainable manner became especially apparent in 2012 after the devastation wrought by Superstorm Sandy,” said Gil C. Quiniones, NYPA president and chief executive officer.
As a way of increasing transparency within the Power Authority, NYPA’s sustainability plan calls for publication of an annual sustainability report with updates on all 39 action items; this most recent report, available online at http://www.nypa.gov/PDFs/susReportAnn2012, includes progress achieved during the year 2012 as well as the two previous years.
Among NYPA’s sustainable initiatives in 2012 were:
• Expanded efforts to reduce NYPA’s carbon footprint, particularly the release of sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), a highly potent greenhouse gas that is used in electrical transmission equipment. New technologies, including a laser imaging camera, are now used during maintenance work to detect and address escaping SF6, resulting in a leakage rate of 2.8 percent, well below the 6 percent target set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
• Water conservation measures that include audits of non-process water usage at all NYPA sites and improvement projects resulting in more efficient use of water for power generation. A chiller replacement at NYPA’s Niagara Hydroelectric Power Plant, for example, is saving 7 million gallons of potable water annually while eliminating 1.4 million gallons of discharge into the facility’s sanitary system.
• Support for renewable energy projects, including distributed generation systems installed by NYPA as well as purchases of Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) from other generators on behalf of Power Authority customers. NYPA now has 120 solar photovoltaic installations around the state for a combined capacity of 2,163 kilowatts while its Green Power REC purchases now exceed 200 gigwatt-hours a year.
• Additional certifications from the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system. The gold-level award (for existing buildings) NYPA received at its White Plains administrative offices in 2006 has been renewed following a more stringent recertification process completed in 2012. That same year, a new warehouse built for NYPA’s Niagara power plant also received a gold rating from the Green Building Council.
The Power Authority’s day-to-day operations, as well as its support for several of Governor Cuomo’s special programs, further advance the principles of sustainability. For example, the New York Energy Highway initiative to create a stronger, more flexible energy infrastructure will be realized through a number of Power Authority projects, including a $726 million Life Extension and Modernization of NYPA’s statewide transmission network.
BuildSmart NY, which requires all state agencies and authorities to improve their energy efficiency 20 percent by 2020, is another of the Governor’s programs that the Power Authority is helping achieve. Under Executive Order 88, issued in late 2012, Governor Cuomo designated NYPA the lead entity to form a central management and implementation plan to carry out this ambitious initiative based in part on the Power Authority’s past performance.
Over the last two decades, NYPA’s financing of energy efficiency projects throughout the state increased to $270 million for 2012. During the three-year period since NYPA’s Sustainability Action Plan was implemented, these measures have helped reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 129,000 tons.
The Sustainability Annual Report concludes with a look forward that explains how NYPA is incorporating its sustainability program into its corporate strategic planning process, which will result in a more integrated approach to this key initiative.