Roosevelt Island Hurricane Sandy Aftermath, Octagon Management Explains Why Fuel Cell Did Not Prevent Power Outage To Building - Should Portions Of Roosevelt Island Be Categorized As NYC Evacuation Zone A Rather Than Current B?
Image Of Powerless Octagon Building During Hurricane Sandy From Olivia Rios
As previously reported, Hurricane Sandy knocked out power at Roosevelt Island's Octagon Building on Monday October 29. Here's a time lapse video showing when the Octagon lights went out at approximately 8 PM.
You Tube Video of Roosevelt Island Hurricane Sandy Time Lapse
Electricity power was restored to the Octagon on Saturday November 3.
Last night, Octagon Building management sent the following message to residents explaining the power outage chronology and why the Octagon state-of-the-art Fuel Cell
Image of Octagon Fuel Cell Being Delivered May 2011
was not able to maintain electricity for the entire building. According to Octagon building management:
Thank you all for your patience during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. This letter is meant to describe the chronology of the power outage specific to the Octagon and the fuel cell’s emergency operation.Here's what the East River looked like by the Octagon on October 29 just before Hurricane Sandy arrived.
First let me describe the normal operation of the fuel cell. The fuel cell supplies the building with 400 KW of electricity and heat around the clock. During peak times this is about enough to supply half of the building with the shortfall picked up by the solar panels and the Con Edison grid. During off-peak times, the fuel cell can supply most of the building without supplemental grid power. The building is at all times connected to the grid for supplemental power so that during normal operations there is never a power shortfall. At times the fuel cell does go out of service, like any piece of mechanical equipment, and requires maintenance. It is estimated that the fuel cell is up and running 98% of the year. When the fuel cell is out of service, the Con Edison grid picks up the full building load.
In the event of a Con Edison grid outage, the fuel cell switches to grid independent mode. This means it is still operational when the grid is down for specific life safety loads as is the emergency diesel generator, but it cannot pick up the entire building load.
During Hurricane Sandy, the Con Edison power went out at the Octagon on Monday night due to its connection to Coler Hospital’s electrical network, which was flooded. The fuel cell switched to grid-independent mode and the emergency generator came on to pick up life-safety loads.
Knowing the fuel cell had the capacity to carry more of the building’s loads, the Octagon management team arranged for the project engineer, fuel cell manufacturer, and electrician to transfer specific loads over to the fuel cell so that the building could have hot and cold water. This work was completed on Wednesday.
On Wednesday evening, Con Edison arrived to assess the power outage at Coler Hospital. It was determined that the flooding at Coler caused the power outage.Con Edison disconnected the Octagon from the Coler network so that the power at the Octagon could be restored independent of the Hospital. Thursday morning, Con Edison informed the Octagon management that an independent electrical testing agency would have to test all of the building’s switchgear, transformers, and vaults for damage prior to re-energizing. The Octagon management was able to have an agency conduct these tests Thursday afternoon with a certificate in Con Edison’s hands Thursday evening.
On Friday, the Octagon Management worked with Con Edison all day to schedule a crew to turn the power back on at the building. Further, we had our electrician onsite to ensure no problems on the building’s end once power was restored. On Friday Con Edison determined that they were sending power to the Octagon’s transformers but the building was not receiving the power, meaning there was a problem with the Con Edison transformers that would require a specific crew with our electrician’s assistance to remediate the damage.
Unfortunately, Con Edison was not able to get to the building until Saturday morning to make the repairs and restore power. Our electricians came back Saturday morning and assisted in the repair and restoration of power early Saturday afternoon. It was ultimately determined that Con Edison had faulty components in their network protectors that had to be replaced to restore the power.
We understand this was a very difficult week for all of the Octagon residents and appreciate your patience with our management team as we made every effort to make living at the building more bearable during the outage.
One lesson learned from the Hurricane Sandy experience is that perhaps all of Roosevelt Island should not be in the Category B evacuation zone but that portions of Roosevelt island, including the area around the Octagon and Coler Hospital should be Category A.
Roosevelt Island Lighthouse Park Under Water From Hurricane Sandy Via Kate Williams Tweet
More scenes from Roosevelt Island under water here and here.