Iron Dome Tech Comes to New York Power Grid

The Blenheim-Gilboa Power Project.

It may not be overselling it to call the New York Power Authority’s new system to prevent crippling power outages an “Iron Dome” for the state network.

The Israeli company mPrest, that collaborated with NYPA on the project, also developed Israel’s remarkably successful Iron Dome missile defense system. In fact, the technology now in place to protect New York’s power grid from costly and dangerous fails was derived from that defense technology.

“They [mPrest] were the brains behind the missile defense system and they said it could be used for power plant monitoring,” Alan Ettlinger, NYPA’s director for research, technology, development and innovation, told the Times of Israel in a report published Sunday.

The new system is self-correcting; it automatically shuts down and reroutes power if a problem is detected. No catastrophic breakdown; the lights stay on, field workers are protected from the dangers of an explosion, and the NYPA – and the taxpayer – save money, Ettlinger said.

After the failure of two of NYPA’s largest transformers, the Blenheim-Gilboa Power Project in 2012, and the Niagara Power Project in 2014, the authority decided it was time to look for a longterm solution. It found one at mPrest.

Three New York State power plants have since been outfitted with mPrest’s Asset Health Management application, or mNTCS, which keeps track of the “health” of a transformer, using data from the power plant transformer and various sensors, advanced algorithms, historical performance data and lab reports.

The plants include the New York State Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant, Blenheim-Gilboa Pumped-Storage Power Plant and 500 MW plant in Queens. The program is expected to be in operation at about 50 of its transformers across the state in coming months.

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