Ideas improve efficiency, save money, protect the environment
Employees at Central Hudson were recognized for creating and implementing ideas that provide customer benefits by improving service, reducing costs and/or help the environment. Eleven employee-finalists were recognized by the utility for seven ideas implemented individually or as a group during the year as part of the fifth annual Innovation Awards program.
“Our employees have many years of combined experience, education and training, both in their jobs and within our industry,” said James. P. Laurito, President of Central Hudson. “The Innovation program encourages employees to use this knowledge to creatively find solutions to problems, perform tasks more efficiently, or utilize technology in ways not thought of before to improve systems or operations,” he said. “The ideas can be simple or complex, but they all show how imagination and hard work can bring about benefits for Central Hudson and our customers.
“Many ideas are submitted by employees during the year, which are reviewed by internal committee,” said Laurito. “While all of the ideas are creative, the committee recognizes a group of finalists.” The Central Hudson employees and projects recognized in 2012 are:
- Director of Meter Services Brett Arteta and Meter Foreman Mark Bailey, for alleviating data reception and transmission issues occurring in some locations by specialized cellular electric and natural gas meters, by utilizing a simple signal booster initially designed for common cell phones. The idea easily and cost-effectively improves the reliability of meter data collection, and avoids costly and time-consuming service calls.
- Substation Foreman George Dudar, for his use of selective common household items to quickly, effectively and safely clean electrical components at a substation located on the Hudson River shoreline affected by brackish water during Hurricane Sandy, avoiding costly repairs and potential service interruptions that would have otherwise occurred.
- Natural Gas Mechanic Welder Harold VanEtten, who developed a tool to that significantly reduces the time to clear natural gas lines of occasional water blockages, speeding recovery of gas service to customers.
- Systems Specialist Project Leader Raymond A’Brial, Engineer Neal Moriarty and Senior Engineer Donald Vandenbroek, who developed a method of securely transmitting high-speed data communications between equipment installed as part of a smart-grid project by utilizing a vendor’s proprietary non-routable protocol, improving data security and reducing costs.
- Section Leader Engineer David Merte, for overseeing Central Hudson’s lead role as a member of a coalition of utilities, the regional natural gas association and a manufacturer to develop and deploy the Explorer, a robot that dramatically improves the ability of utilities to perform internal inspections of natural gas pipelines. The technology, which was utilized in 2012 by Central Hudson, the second utility in the country to do so, has far-reaching capabilities to improve the safety and cost-effectiveness of pipeline inspections across the nation.
- Director of Customer Accounting Lisa Cerone and Systems Specialist Project Leader Suzette Mazurowski, for successfully leading a team of Central Hudson employees in developing a new computer application to streamline the time-intensive process of preparing customer accounts who choose to receive energy from independent marketers. Before the improvement, the process took several days and required the involvement of three internal departments; now, it takes just a few minutes.
- Environmental Specialist Karen Lo, for improving Central Hudson’s environmental footprint by utilizing a service to recycle waste transformer oil into usable oil products. Previously, the used oil was shipped to a facility and burned for energy recovery. Recycling and reusing the oil reduces greenhouse gases associated with burning, and Central Hudson receives a payment for the waste oil, which benefits customers.
“We’re enormously proud of all our employees who developed and implemented their ideas, and applaud their creativity,” said Laurito. “Innovation can often be the start of something brand new or even revolutionary, and we’re encouraged by the can-do attitude these employees exhibit. We’re excited about the potential of where the next idea may lead us.”
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Central Hudson employees are recognized for Innovation. Finalists pictured above are (from left to right): Neal Moriarty, David Merte, Raymond A’Brial, Harold VanEtten, Donald Vandenbroek, Mark Bailey, George Dudar, Suzette Mazurowski, Karen Lo and Brett Arteta. (Not pictured: Lisa Cerone).