I recently read about NYSERDA’s NY Prize Competition. The purpose of this competition is “to help communities create micro-grids -- standalone energy systems that can operate independently in the event of a power outage.”
There are 11 proposals now in Phase II of this competition. Ten of them include gas-fired combined heat and power (CHP) units in their micro- grid plans. The trouble with that is the need to connect to a pipeline system for the gas delivery. There’s nothing “micro” about New York state pipeline systems. There’s nothing standalone or independent about them.
Pipelines leak, spill or explode. Of the 48,680 miles of distribution mains in New York, 41.4 percent were installed pre-1970 or earlier; of the 4,550 miles of transmission lines, 54.3 percent of them were installed pre-1970 or earlier.
These older pipelines take some of the blame for pipeline failures. New pipelines using new materials and welding techniques bring new failure methods time has yet to reveal. There have been three significant incidents reported in New York this year.
The state’s Public Service Commission 2016 report shows the total leak backlog for distribution lines in New York to be 17,233 leaks.
That’s fugitive methane leaking into the atmosphere; it shows the need for constant vigilance and repair of pipeline systems. It shows a constant exposure to this noxious fuel.
We expect to hear soon who the NY Prize winners will be. Not so fast. Go back and design truly sustainable, renewable, independent micro-grids. Then we all will be winners.