Contributor Vivek Kemp is GE’s Reporter at Large
Throughout much of the U.S., power grids transmit energy at slightly different frequencies as well as at different phase angles, preventing electricity generated in one from being used by another. But thanks to one of GE’s smart grid technologies and GE Capital, that’s no longer the case for New York and New Jersey. GE just installed three variable frequency transformers, or VFTs, in Linden, N.J. — just up the road from where Thomas Edison designed the first reliable electric light bulb some 130 years ago — that will push volts to power-hungry New York City. Together, the machines — which are the stars of a dedication ceremony today – convert up to 315 megawatts of electricity, which is enough for some 300,000 homes. In the video clip below, GE’s Daniel Walsh explains what it means to have the two giant grids now talking to each other.
“The project marries a lot of capabilities that GE has,” said Christopher Seiple, senior vice president at GE Energy Financial Services and manager of the team that led the VFT work. “Many elements came together, from the financial strength of GE Capital to the substantial knowledge we have in engineering and expertise on how the energy industry functions — and how to actually optimize the value of the technology in relation to the market. By building this, we have avoided the need to build a new power plant in New York City.”
Not only is the technology a leap forward, so too is how the investment was made. “Historically, regulated utilities have been responsible for transmission investments — putting their customers at risk for the development and construction costs. ” Seiple explained. The Linden VFT project is different, as GE Energy Financial Services — which owns the plant — provided the investment; thereby, protecting consumers’ wallets. “The revenue we receive is based on the value we provide,” Seiple said. If at sometime in the future lower cost energy alternatives are available to customers in New York City, they’ll be free to migrate to those alternatives.
He explained that New York City pays among the highest electricity costs in North America, and with New Jersey’s historically lower-cost system, the VFT system allows the sale of less expensive energy while still making a profit. The technology also reduces the need for new power plants within the Big Apple. And in the future, the flow may go both ways — an option that is currently being studied.
The video below, which first ran in GE Reports when the VFTs were being installed over the summer, provides a terrific overview of how they work and how the massive transformers were installed.
Learn more about Energy Financial Services’ latest projects in these GE Reports stories:
* “NJ juices NY with GE’s smart grid technology”
* “From geothermal power to LEDs: Two “firsts”
* “Accelerating clean technology via venture capital”
* “GE’s in the trenches on Jordan’s $1B water pipeline”
* “GE boosts battery and hybrid bets”
* “GE’s new wind investments strike a little-big mix”