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SEPTA puts ambitious smart grid project into action

By Donna Donnawitz
June 29, 2012
One of the greatest benefits of smart grid technology is its unique ability to support innovation in power generation, storage, distribution and usage models. The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority is set to take full advantage of the smart grid's capabilities in a new system that will optimize power for cities in the region surrounding its Market to Frankford Line.

The innovative solution uses the braking systems on the public transit trains to generate power which is then transferred to powerful batteries integrated within the regional utility grid. As a result, the public transit system is used to support power delivery requirements in the communities it serves.

Essentially, public transit trains create enough kinetic energy that the power is converted into electricity through a regenerative braking system. This is a fairly common attribute of commuter rail vehicles. The challenge has not been to generate that power, but find a way to use it in a way that supports a business model that delivers economic value. With the new battery system in place that allows for energy storage and a smart grid solution that enables power frequency regulation, SEPTA is able to use its regenerative brakes to support the utility grid or power its own trains.

Joe Casey, general manager at SEPTA, said the smart grid project is helping the transit organization control costs and server the local community.

"Through this pilot project, SEPTA will become even more energy efficient, which will help control operating costs - benefiting both customers and taxpayers," said Casey. "We’ve made our system cleaner, greener and more efficient in recent years – things like replacing traditional diesel buses with diesel-electric hybrids and installing energy-efficient lighting at stations, facilities and offices. These measures are helping us control costs in tough economic conditions - and making us a better neighbor in the communities we serve."

Smart grid's unique ability to deliver real-time data about power generation, distribution and consumption provides a foundation for revolutionary changes in how utility providers and businesses handle the electricity plans. Most experts agree that the core technologies making up the current utility grid data back a century with only minimal improvements over time. Smart grid solutions have the potential to breathe new life into the world's aging power infrastructure, enabling sustainable practices and innovative programs. offers a range of cost effective serial-to-Ethernet converters to help meet NERC-CIP compliance for the protection of critical cyberassets in substations. The IOLAN SDS HV/LDC Terminal Server is designed to meet harsh environments associated with Power Substations with attributes such as support for substation AC and DC voltage ranges, extended operating temperatures and meeting emission, immunity and safety approvals associated with substation IT equipment.


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