Mass Transit Project Investigates Recycling Braking Energy

Viridity Energy, a Philadelphia-area smart grid company, has received a $900,000 grant for a 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 high-use propulsion substation in Philadelphia, with the goal of improving power quality, producing energy savings and generating revenues.

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 could lead to economic, operational and environmental benefits including:

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

Economic value. In addition to using less electricity and reducing operating costs, the project could generate significant revenues through participation in PJM’s wholesale power markets. PJM is a regional transmission organization.

Operational efficiency. SEPTA hopes to increase operation and maintenance efficiencies through improved power quality and system management.

Carbon footprint reductions. 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.

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.

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.

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.

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