NYPA: Ricardo DaSilva


VP, Strategic Operations

PUF 2.0 - October 15, 2017

PUF's Steve Mitnick: What's the ISOC?

Ricardo DaSilva: ISOC stands for Integrated Smart Operations Center.

PUF's Steve Mitnick: What makes it smart?

Ricardo DaSilva: It's going to be the digital hub for our operations. Our ISOC brings together several different functions, different roles into one common space. We have our monitoring diagnostic capabilities where we're tracking the asset health of our generation transmission assets.

We have our communications infrastructure monitoring also concurrently being monitored. We're monitoring physical security, cyber security as well in this common space. We're also monitoring functions from our New York Energy Manager. We have a holistic and complete view from generation to transmission to our customer. From source to load.

Ricardo DaSilva: The Innovation Zone will have spaces where workers, internal, external parties, could come together on an informal basis and work.

PUF's Steve Mitnick: That sounds like a big place. Is it like Madison Square Garden size?

Ricardo DaSilva: Not quite. We are dedicating some space here in the White Plains building at NYPA headquarters. That's part of the ISOC rollout and implementation. Dedicating the eighth floor to this function.

PUF's Steve Mitnick: Give me a sense if we were walking around, what's over there and what's over here.

Ricardo DaSilva: The floor itself, similar to the ISOC, we're bringing together different functions, different business units. The whole floor is used to stimulate different thinking, more collaborative thinking, because that's part of our strategic vision, our strategic initiatives.

We really are looking for a more innovative environment, a more collaborative environment. That's quite key to us to not only handle the technical aspects of what this effort and endeavor is about but also from a cultural perspective, having people working in different ways, communicating more frequently, and thinking out of the box.

PUF's Steve Mitnick: You're going to have trampolines and ping pong tables, and pizza brought in. Is it going to be like that?

Ricardo DaSilva: Not initially, put it that way. It is going to be a quite unique space here at the Power Authority, unlike any other floor we have. The environment is always going to be unlike any other floor.

We'll have on the floor representation from technology and innovation, our research and development group, strategic operations, our strategy group, New York energy managers, cyber security, physical security, IT data analytics, and emergency management all in this one common floor. The intent is that from a position of complete situational awareness, we're proving the situational awareness across our fleet, and we're better able to react to any incidents.

PUF's Steve Mitnick: If I'm on the fifth floor, how do I get on the eighth floor? Give me some tips.

Ricardo DaSilva: In the area itself, even though we do have some of these dedicated spaces for these specific functions, we are also going to have collaborative areas. We are inviting people throughout the organization, as well as external parties, to come in and work in this space.

We're creating this as a digital hub, a digital foundry, to create this innovative thinking. One of the key features of this floor is going to be the Innovation Zone. It's an innovation area which will have open spaces, informal spaces, where workers, internal, external parties, could come together on an informal basis and work at these consoles, these tables.

Sprinkled through the floor are also these very distinct working, collaborative areas. We're really promoting that people spend little time at their desks, but get up and about, exchanging ideas and communicating with one another. We have the right mix of spaces, the right mix of aesthetics to get people to do that.

PUF's Steve Mitnick: Do you feel different when you're in the Innovation Zone?

Ricardo DaSilva: It will feel different. Construction is still in progress. We're expecting to complete that around December 1. It will be quite a different space. I am very excited about it. I can sense the excitement throughout the building here, throughout the Authority.

PUF's Steve Mitnick: Where do you come into play? How do you know about this ISOC?

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Ricardo DaSilva: I'm vice president of strategic operations. I had something to do with it. My group initially has been managing the smart generation and transmission and the asset management strategic initiative, which are two of the four initiatives that make up the strategic vision.

The ISOC is a key component of our asset management strategic initiative. It's about gaining additional insights, providing additional information and proving our situational awareness so that we can make better business decisions and better operational decisions as well. The ISOC itself is a product within that business plan.

PUF's Steve Mitnick: What do you actually do that dictates what this thing is going to be like in the end?

Ricardo DaSilva: We conceive these original thoughts, these original ideas, and we conceptualize these ideas. We form a basis for what it will look like, what the vision is for this space. Just like the ISOC, we're also handling other items that feed into the ISOC because we can't look at the ISOC in isolation.

There's quite a bit that goes along with it. There's a communications infrastructure that we need to have in place to support the ever-growing data needs that we're going to have from across the state, across our facilities, from western New York up to northern New York with our Saint Lawrence facility.

We need to make sure we're capturing the status of our health, our assets and our customer sites. We're rolling out additional sensors, phasor measurement units. There's a whole series and a whole set of programs in place to make sure that we capture the right information. It will help ensure we have the data analytics in place to evaluate and analyze that data so that we can get meaningful insights and make educated decisions.

PUF's Steve Mitnick: What do you mean by the health of an asset?

Ricardo DaSilva: We have generation facilities and transmission facilities. One of the things we need to ensure is the health, the reliability, and the resiliency of those assets. At the end of the day we need to be able to continue to provide low-cost power and best value to our customers in New York state.

We do that by making sure that our assets are operational, that they're available when they need to be available. I would do it at a cost that is competitive. Through the ISOC and by us being able to monitor and establish these long-term trends and anomalies, we're able to do that in a much more proactive and forecasted use of that. We're able to take action when it's best to take action, and we do it in a planned fashion as opposed to being unprepared and needing to do work when it's unplanned.

We're looking at avoiding issues, avoiding catastrophic failures. Pretty much in essence, through the ISOC, we're looking at avoiding issues, mitigating issues before they ever become serious.

PUF's Steve Mitnick: How will NYPA be stronger or better for the state, or for customers, because of this Innovation Zone?

Ricardo DaSilva: There's quite a bit that we're packing into that floor. We have three major key elements of our strategic vision, our efforts that are going to be on that eighth floor. There's the ISOC, which is the centerpiece of it with the integrated smart operations, the center.

There are also two other elements. There's the New York Energy Manager as well as AGILE, the Advanced Grid Innovation Lab for Energy. Those three elements will all be on the floor.

The ISOC is internal and focused on generation transmission. New York Energy Manager is focused on customer sites. AGILE is focused on the grid as a whole and what we can do to facilitate the integration of new technologies.

PUF's Steve Mitnick: What is AGILE?

Ricardo DaSilva: The grid of the future is changing. It's changing quickly, with new technologies that are being developed. NYPA is taking a role in making sure that we create an environment, the lab, that allows us to model the New York state system grid as a whole.

We're able to see how these different technologies interact with one another before they're actually placed into service. AGILE initially will be set up on this eighth floor along with the other elements, and we'll provide the mechanism and the environment for us to do so.

PUF's Steve Mitnick: How did you get to this position with your career?

Ricardo DaSilva: I've been at the Power Authority for fourteen years now, out of college. Electrical engineering, computer engineering background. Spent significant time in project management, managing and putting together major life extension efforts, the largest one being our transmission life extension, seven hundred and twenty-six million dollars.

A couple of years ago when the Strategic Vision 2020 was being structured, being formed, I was tapped on the shoulder to support that. Over the last two years or so, that's been my main focus, between me and my team, on working with some great people throughout the organization, really capturing ideas, developing out ideas from a technology process perspective and supporting the implementation of these.

PUF's Steve Mitnick: How's NYPA and the grid going to be different in 2020 than it is now?

Ricardo DaSilva: We're making some great strides. Between this year and last year we made some excellent progress on a lot of these foundational elements. I'll call them our communications infrastructure, our data analytics capabilities, having IT-LT support, and integrating all these various platforms, so we are on firm ground.

There's much more to come. We have much more to do, between rolling out additional sensors and rolling out additional analytics. That's something that we're going to be doing internally with some of our mutual partners.

PUF's Steve Mitnick: What's our energy future?

Is it going to be a lot different beyond 2020?

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Ricardo DaSilva: We need to be prepared for any series of events. I think that's what NYPA is rolling out from a technology perspective, from an asset management perspective. It is preparing us for the future.

We know there's change coming. We've seen rapid change. How rapidly will it continue? What NYPA is doing is positioning ourselves to be prepared for whatever that future may be.


2020 Strategic Refresh: