MTA Receives $2 Million to Reduce Energy Costs

October 12, 2009 Updated: October 12, 2009

NEW YORK—Saving energy and keeping the subway going in icy conditions have seen a stimulus injection of $2 million into the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).

The cash injection is to go toward a wireless heating control system on the third rail that should result in a saving of $1.6 million per year for the MTA. The system is slated to be in operation in 2012.

To date, manual activation of approximately 1,000 subway heaters has been required each year in order to prevent icing of the rail exposed at ground level. These heaters remain turned on from fall through early spring regardless of whether icing is expected, thereby generating significant energy waste.

Heating the third rail is important because ice will not allow sufficient electrical contact, thereby causing power problems which will keep a train from operating.

The allocated funds will be used to install approximately 350 wireless control points that will provide New York City Transit with the ability to monitor, power on, and shut off third rail heaters in response to actual weather conditions. The heaters will be regulated through remote control at a central location, leading to an estimated saving of 23,000 megawatt hours of energy.

“The MTA is one of just a handful of transit agencies to receive TIGGER funding. This project is part of the MTA’s overall commitment to lower energy costs and reduce our carbon footprint while putting more people to work as we continue to modernize our infrastructure,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Jay H. Walder.

The grant was allocated through the federal Transit Investments for Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction (TIGGER) program, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption of public transportation systems. The MTA’s proposal, which was submitted to the Federal Transit Administration in May, was approved through a competitive application process.

The project will cost $8.32 million, with the TIGGER funds used to cover part of the labor costs.