Business

Safety technology wins Jamaican top US energy industry award

Excelsior High past student says Carib Cement internship triggered interest in engineering

By Julian Richardson Assistant Business Co-ordinator richardsonj@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, March 22, 2013    

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WHITE PLAINS, New York

A Jamaican man, working in the United States energy industry, has won a prestigious award for his work on a safety project that makes it possible for utility workers to detect stray voltage with a smart phone or tablet.

Paul Richardson was named a winner of the Technology Transfer Award from the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), a national energy research organization. Richardson is a district operator in system and transmission operations at New York power company Con Edison, where he has worked since 2004. He grew up in Portmore, St Catherine and attended Excelsior High School before migrating to the US as a teenager.

Richardson worked with two fellow Con Edison employees on research into using smart phone and tablet personal computer technology to detect contact voltage on streets. The technology could make it possible for a utility worker with a smart phone or tablet to detect contact voltage, also known as stray voltage, the company said, noting that the faster contact voltage is detected, the faster crews can make repairs, ensuring public safety.

"We live in a world that is power dependent and as technology advances the demand for that power increases. At Con Edison, nothing is more important than the safety of the New Yorkers who rely our service and the safety of our own employees," Richardson told Caribbean Business Report yesterday.

"This award is gratifying because it recognizes our commitment to public safety," he added.

At Con Edison, Richardson is responsible for switching electric transmission and distribution equipment in and out of service for routine work and emergency conditions.

"My primary objectives are the safety of our personnel, the reliability of our service and protecting our equipment and our customers' equipment from damage," he said.

He said the project came about as the company constantly explores new technologies and methods to make its service safer.

"This project was a part of that process. The technology could make it possible for a utility worker to use a portable device to detect objects that are inadvertently energized so that repairs can be made," he said.

Richardson said his interest in engineering has its genesis from a summer internship he had at the Caribbean Cement Company.

"There I had the opportunity to observe industrial manufacturing and the technical aspects of maintaining a manufacturing plant," he told Caribbean Business Report.

Now living in White Plains, New York, Richardson is a graduate of the Polytechnic Institute of New York University with a Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering.

Richardson was one of eight Con Edison employees who won Technology Transfer Awards for projects to make the delivery of electricity safer and more reliable.

Con Edison is a subsidiary of Consolidated Edison, one of the nation's largest investor-owned energy companies, with approximately US$12 billion in annual revenues and US$41 billion in assets. The utility provides electric, gas and steam service to more than three million customers in New York City and Westchester County, New York.

"We are in a constant and relentless search for technology and methods that can improve our service," said Craig Ivey, the president of Con Edison. "The men and women of Con Edison are proud to see eight members of our team recognized for research that will benefit the New Yorkers we feel privileged to serve."

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