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NYPA, mPrest receive $900,000 grant to study prevention of power transformer outages

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Tue, Jun 30th 2015 04:40 pm

The New York Power Authority and an Israeli software development firm have been awarded a $900,000 grant to develop a system that can rapidly detect malfunctioning power transformers before they cause larger problems on the electric grid.

The funding, from the Israel-U.S. Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation, was provided to NYPA and mPrest, a firm that builds critical monitoring and control systems for the civilian, homeland security and defense sectors. NYPA and mPrest will develop software for deployment on the NYPA transmission system, and plan to engage the Electric Power Research Institute for research assistance.

"Power transformers are among the most costly assets in the electric grid, so research in this area is critical," said Gil C. Quiniones, NYPA president and CEO. Quiniones also serves as chairman of EPRI. "Providing service without interruption is the best way for everyone to measure how we're doing our job."

"The deployment of sophisticated and comprehensive monitoring and control systems for the mission-critical assets of the power utilities will improve the reliability, safety and efficiency of the power grid," said Natan Barak, mPrest president. "Reliable energy flow is paramount and power transformers are critical and costly assets in the electric grid."

The project aims to fill a critical need for continued system reliability - a predictive analysis tool that could guide operators to potential trouble spots before they emerge, so preventative maintenance can be done. This could potentially prevent sudden equipment failures, risking system reliability and severe damage to equipment.

This project is consistent with a key component of NYPA's strategic vision, which sets out a roadmap for how New York can reimagine the power system to meet the needs of an environmentally sustainable, energy-driven economy. A key component is asset management, where the ultimate goal is to focus operations and maintenance activities to support reliable and efficient generation and transmission of low-cost power.

As part of the project, EPRI's Power Transformer Expert System software will work in conjunction with mPrest's Transformer Command and Control Software, which provides information on the asset health of transformers based on commonly available data such as dissolved gas analysis, name plate and other data. The teams plans to test the mPrest software at the EPRI Laboratory in Charlotte on a test transformer to simulate how it would perform if it was degraded or failing.

The Israel-based BIRD Foundation was established by the U.S. and Israeli governments in 1977 to support and promote industrial research and development that mutually benefits both countries, particularly in high-tech industries.

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