An innovative spirit and hard work are two of our company’s greatest assets. Our research and development teams work diligently to find solutions that make the workplace safer and improve our operations and our customers’ quality of life. Some of our numerous ongoing projects are described below.
- Piloting thermal scanning systems and disinfecting ultraviolet light technologies in preparation for post-Covid workplace re-entry, along with benchmarking on best practices for the post-Covid workplace.
- Developed and demonstrated the initial prototype of an electronic job safety briefing app, designed to help mitigate high hazard injuries and allow for completion of comprehensive job briefings while maintaining socially safe distances.
- Conducted shop testing of the 16-inch plastic pipe squeeze-off tool that can isolate gas flow anywhere on the distribution system. Benefits include enhanced public safety and system integrity in the event of an emergency.
- Partnered in the successful development of a low-cost optically based online corrosion monitoring system. The system was recently patented and will be used to help monitor conditions on underground network distribution transformers and avoid a potential event such as a transformer oil leak.
- Successfully field-tested a second generation breaker racking robot prototype. Fulfillment of all technical requirements and completion of a final prototype will allow for remote racking of substation breakers, thereby minimizing exposure risk of substation operators to arc flash hazards and reducing soft tissue injuries from handling heavy circuit breakers.
- Developing a more robust weather forecasting and outage prediction platform, with capability to do scenario and benchmarking analysis.
- Demonstrated the potential of Electrohydraulic Fracturing (EHF) to revolutionize how we excavate rock and concrete. EHF technology is anticipated to have low sound and dust generation and reduce cost and time compared to traditional techniques.
- Developed software using blockchain technology to provide distributed energy resource (DER) customers with information on electric feeder outages that may affect their ability to sell electricity. The app will realize cost savings from adding end-to-end smart contract intelligence to the current scheduling process.
- Developed a thermal imaging tool for through-cover inspections that will reduce jobsite set-up, reduce necessary personal protective equipment, and allow for more frequent inspections. This tool will allow us to track low level hotspot conditions and mitigate them before developing into a higher risk condition.
- Tested the capability of incremental alarm settings on in-home Natural Gas Detectors (NGDs) integrated with Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI). Currently, NGDs have one alarm setting, while future units could have multiple settings in increments of 5% LEL (lower explosive limit), ranging from 5%–25% LEL. Alarming in increments provides insights into the severity of future gas leak alarms (GLAs) from the AMI NGDs.
- Tested the efficacy of a passive safety device installed on gas metering piping with the ability to automatically shut off the flow of gas in the event of a fire.
- Launched a joint R&D/Transportation Operations project for development of an electric bucket truck prototype as part of the Company’s effort to transition its vehicle fleet to electric. The prototype is expected to be ready for testing by 2022.
- Participating as an anchor sponsor in the EPRI/GTI Low-Carbon Resources Initiative (LCRI), a five-year $100 million industry-wide R&D initiative to advance development of zero and low carbon energy resources, such as green hydrogen and synthetic methane, to meet the carbon reduction goals of New York State’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA).
- Joined the Carbon to Value Initiative’s Carbontech Leadership Council (CLC), a three-year initiative to advance carbontech innovations toward decarbonization, such as carbon capture, utilization and storage.
- Demonstrated the effectiveness and efficiency of a self-contained heat pump system that extracts thermal energy from a building’s wastewater, with cooling capabilities for simultaneous domestic hot water production and air conditioning while reducing harmful emissions and decreasing energy resource needs.
- Participating as a founding member in an industry-wide interest group to investigate the impact of projected temperature trends and increased weather events on utilities’ operations and planning.
Awards and Patents
- Awarded a new patent for low pressure gas main stop-offs. The “Emergency Main Stop-Off System (EMSOS)” is an alternative to installing valves on existing large diameter gas mains, thereby avoiding the need for large scale excavation and decreasing customer interruption.
- Granted a patent jointly with Xerox for the invention “Optical Monitoring to Detect Corrosion of Power Grid Components”. Developed as part of a U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) project to develop, prototype, and demonstrate a low-cost, optically based, online monitoring system for underground network distribution transformers.
- Presented with the 2020 John B. McGowan Sr. Research Award from the American Gas Association for work on natural gas detector projects.
- Collaborated on six projects that received Electric Power Research Institute Technology Transfer Awards.