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15 Con Edison Researchers Win Awards for Reliability and Environmental Projects

Employees and Company Recognized by Leading Industry Group

Fifteen Con Edison employees have won coveted industry awards for findings that will help energy companies maintain reliable service for customers and protect the environment.

The employees earned Technology Transfer Awards from the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), a nonprofit that encourages innovation to make sure customers have clean, safe, reliable and affordable electric service that is available to everyone on an equitable basis.

“Con Edison’s impressive showing in this year’s Technology Transfer Awards demonstrates the expertise and knowledge our women and men apply every day as they serve our customers,” Matthew Ketschke, the president of Con Edison, said. “Their projects reflect our company’s goal of maintaining our industry-leading reliability while innovating to ensure a clean energy future.”

The Projects

The Con Edison researchers worked with EPRI on four projects. The largest group of Con Edison winners invented a method to quickly seal leaks of sulfur hexafluoride, a greenhouse gas known as SF6.

SF6 is difficult to detect because it consists of small molecules. That makes leaks difficult to find and repair. SF6 is in substation high-voltage circuit breakers and some electrical conductors.

The group discovered that tightly wrapping stretchable tape around the area of a flange that is leaking and then sealing the bolt holes with an epoxy stops a leak. Previously, operators had to take the equipment out of service and apply a clamp to stop SF6 leaks.

Con Edison has reduced its SF6 emissions by 98 percent since 1996, which is well ahead of a commitment it made to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The Con Edison researchers on the project included four employees from Con Edison’s Substation Operations group: James Haufler, an area manager; Rory Kiernan, an engineering inspector; Abebe Lawrence, a senior specialist; and Kenneth Waldun, a mechanic.

Sergo Sagareli, senior engineer in Research and Development; Jozsef Szabo, senior engineer in Central Engineering; and Matthew Walther, section manager in Central Engineering, also worked on the SF6 project.

Two engineers, Sebastian Vero and Patrick Dilillo, came up with a way to protect high-voltage equipment at a Con Edison substation near the East River from contamination.

The contamination is worst during the winter, as vehicles on the highly travelled FDR Drive splash salty water into the air. Excessive contamination on components called insulators can cause a flash and potentially interrupt service to customers.

Vero, an area manager in Substation Operations, and Dilillo, a technical specialist in Substation Field Engineering, worked with EPRI to install sensors that detect excessive contamination on the insulators.

They then developed a website where operators can monitor the levels. When the contamination reaches excessive levels, the company takes steps to address the condition before a flash and customer outages occur.

Three researchers, Serena Lee, project manager in Research and Development; Steve Kim, director of Cyber Forensics; and Raul Cabrera, project specialist in Corporate Security, worked with EPRI and experts from six other utilities to develop a guidebook on cyber security.

Protecting their systems and customers from cyber attacks has emerged as an urgent priority for energy companies, as would-be attackers become more sophisticated and relentless.

Attack attempts on companies can come from the inside or from foreign governments thousands of miles away. Con Edison’s comprehensive network is designed to protect from internal and external threats. The company has expanded its use of detection and prevention tools to protect our customers’ personal information.

The Insider Threat Management Guidebook provides energy companies with information on running a cyber protection program, behavior that may indicate someone is a potential attacker and technical guidance for detecting suspicious activity.

In addition, four engineers won awards for a project that improves the security of substations. They are: Sagareli; Robert Brantley, vice president of Central Engineering; Daniel Taft, chief engineer in Central Engineering; and Vincenzo Panuccio, manager in Central Engineering.