SEPTA Harnesses Energy From Brake Power

SEPTA received approval for a $1.8 million project to capture and store energy from train car braking along the Market-Frankford El.  The new technology is anticipated to reduce energy consumption by up to 40% and is part of an ambitious plan by the authority to capture energy for storage and possible sale to the electric grid generating millions of dollars a year.  A federal grant is covering $1.4 million of the projects cost.

A massive batter installed at one of the authority's substations will store electricity generated by the braking systems on trains ( as the train slows down the wheels drive generators).  The battery will help trains accelerate, cutting power consumption, and will also provide extra power that can be sold back into the regional grid.  The pilot project, which involves one of 38 substations in the transit system, is expected to bring in $500,000 a year.  This figure would multiply id the batteries are installed at other stations.

The project shows how transit agencies who operate major electric rail systems can find a new source of income by tapping into the smart grid.  it also highlights one way the smart grid could save energy, avoid blackouts, and incorporate more renewable power.  The project is set to be complete by next summer.

The board also gave the go-ahead to a $144,000 study that will look at the vulnerability of SEPTA's regional rail system to climate change and extreme weather events associated with it.  track areas around Jenkintown and along the Manayunk/Norristown Line have been identified as being particularly vulnerable to flooding.

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