SEPTA to Deploy Smart Electrical Grid Technology Project

Viridity Energy, a Philadelphia-area smart grid company, has received a $900,000 grant for its innovative pilot project with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), the nation’s sixth largest public transit organization.

As part of the project, Viridity Energy will deploy its software optimization system to allow SEPTA to recycle the energy created from the regenerative braking ability of trains and trolleys at a highuse propulsion substation in Philadelphia, which will in turn improve power quality, produce energy savings and generate revenues. The State of Pennsylvania awarded the Viridity Energy “SEPTA Recycled Energy and Optimization Project” funding through the 2010 Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority (PEDA) grant program.

The project will pair the latest 21st century technologies and energy optimization practices with one of the country’s oldest transportation systems, dating back to the deployment of electric trolleys in 1892. Mass transit systems across the country are striving to maintain high quality service while facing growing fiscal challenges which are further compounded by rising energy costs. The pilot represents a large and untapped potential for transit systems to help meet these challenges and at the same time improve grid reliability in highly populated urban neighborhoods.

The project calls for Viridity Energy and SEPTA to install a large-scale battery to capture the energy from regenerative braking of trains along a portion of the Market-Frankford Line, the highest ridership line in SEPTA’s system. The Viridity Energy-SEPTA project will result in numerous economic, operational and environmental benefits including, but not limited to, the following:

Delivers Energy Savings – SEPTA will capture and productively use electric power that would be otherwise wasted while reducing its electricity consumption.

Realizes Economic Value – In addition to using less electricity and reducing operating costs, the project will generate significant revenues through participation in PJM’s wholesale power markets.

Increases Operational Efficiency – SEPTA will increase operation and maintenance efficiencies through improved power quality and system management.

Achieves Sustainability and Carbon Footprint Goals – By reducing its use of electricity generated on the grid, the project will help SEPTA decrease its carbon emissions by 1,258 tons per year.

Enhances Grid Reliability – The stored energy will help balance electric generation and electric load on the PJM interconnection system while assisting PECO Energy Company in preserving the reliability of its electric distribution system.

“We are delighted to receive this grant from PEDA and are looking forward to working with SEPTA to deploy the latest energy optimization techniques with the goal of improving their operational efficiency, reducing their carbon footprint and lowering their costs,” said Audrey Zibelman, president and CEO of Viridity Energy. “This project is a perfect example of how smart grid innovations and advances in technology can effectively be paired with revenue opportunities from competitive energy markets to yield substantial economic, operational and environmental benefits to all the parties involved.”

As part of the pilot project, SEPTA expects to generate approximately $500,000 in economic value for the agency. A successful pilot could lead to potential deployment at all 38 SEPTA substations. It is estimated that this expansion could translate into significant savings from SEPTA’s current electricity spend.

“We are pleased to partner with Viridity Energy on this project under the PEDA grant program,” said Joseph M. Casey, general manager of SEPTA. “Upon implementation, the storage system will serve as a foundation for measurable gains in both energy efficiency and voltage stability in this critical corridor, providing a replicable and scalable model for broader system-wide implementation. By moving towards energy storage, SEPTA will be assuming a leadership role among transit agencies.”

“SEPTA’s partnership with Viridity Energy supports Philadelphia’s burgeoning market position as a cutting-edge center for smart grid technologies,” said Rina Cutler, deputy mayor for transportation and utilities. “This kind of energy saving technology and improvement to transit service reliability advances the Mayor's Greenworks Philadelphia agenda.”