Daily Archives: January 4, 2021

workers clean up confetti in times square
How New York’s Sanitation Department Cleans Up After the Times Square Ball Drop

Located just south of Central Park in Manhattan, Times Square is one of the most iconic locales in the world. On New Year’s Eve, this symbolic center of New York City takes to the world stage in a 114-year-old tradition televised all over the world: the famous Times Square Ball Drop.

At precisely 11: 59 pm, the Waterford crystal paneled ball, weighing 11,875 lbs and backlit by pyrotechnic effects, begins its 1-minute descent from the roof of One Times Square to mark the end of one year and the beginning of the next.

Along with the ball, confetti also comes down like colorful rain on Times Square at the stroke of midnight. Vast amounts of it. A confetti master, working with a team of over 100 volunteers (called the confetti dispersal engineers) shower the gathered crowd with colorful bits of paper from the rooftop of eight Times Square buildings.

Each piece of this custom confetti is larger than the average sort you’d find at a party supply store. This creates a magical, densely packed atmosphere. But, like any party thrown on such a grand scale, the end of the event leaves a lot of debris. This raises the question: who cleans up after News Year’s Eve at Times Square? And how?

Here’s a breakdown of the amazing clean-up drive, undertaken by the New York Department of Sanitation (DSNY), that is no less of a feat than the event itself:

Area Covered

The sanitation department covers five blocks running east to west (5th Avenue – 9th Avenue) and 26 blocks running north to south (59th Street to 34th Street). The area of approximately 0.87 square miles is divided up into seven sections for clean-up purposes.

Pre-Party Prep

Several hours before the event, the DSNY mobilizes into action. They work alongside police officers, armed counterterrorism units, and bomb-sniffing dogs to clear the area of potential security threats.

  • Following incidents of truck-driving attacks in Germany and France, large 20-ton sanitation trucks, loaded with 15 tons of sand, are now deployed around Times Square.
  • Newspaper machines and trash cans are removed as a preemptive measure against any concealed threats (such as explosives) where the crowds will gather. Manholes are also sealed shut.

Post-Party Clean Up

Manhattan’s cold December weather typically clears out the crowd quickly after the ball drops.

As the revelers begin to disperse, another group converges on the site. The DSNY crew return Times Square to its pristine condition within seven hours.

The cleaning unit consists of garbage trucks, pickup trucks, rack trucks, street sweepers, utility vehicles, leaf blowers, brooms and shovels, operated by a team of about 200 trash collectors from the sanitation department.

The job at hand is to remove approximately 100,000 lbs of confetti. This plus an assortment of banners, balloons, whistles, noisemakers, top hats, costumes, and other party trash make up about 65 tons of debris. This debris now covers the streets.

But how are such large quantities of flying confetti shored up and removed so efficiently? The procedure is this: push every last piece of colorful debris from the building line and onto the curb.

Leaf blowers and Haulster utility vehicles with squeegee attachments pile the trash from the curb into the street. The cleaning crew picks up larger objects. Street sweepers and mechanical brooms make continuous passes over the same area until every last piece of confetti has been collected.

By 7 am, the streets look completely clean. But this was only the first leg of the clean-up project. The sanitation department later has to tackle a second wave of confetti by January 2. This is confetti that blows off rooftops and settles on the streets after the initial clean up.

It’s a fascinating enterprise. The speed of the operation astonishes visitors from all over the world, celebrating New Year’s at Times Square. But having done this year after year, the DSNY now has the massive clean-up drive down to an art.

By 7am on January 1, when morning traffic hits Times Square, the streets look no different from any other day.

 

* 2020 was the first year since its inception in 1907 that no public celebrations took place at Times Square. 

 

FEDERAL ENERGY REGULATORY COMMISSION- sign at entrance to headquarters building where NERC compliance is monitored
FERC and NERC Compliance

Under the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission or FERC, there is a small but very important clause. Any organization involved with bulk power systems must comply with this clause. This clause is referred to as NERC. It consists of four pillars of compliance success. At times it can be quite difficult to maintain compliance, but not impossible. In this article, we will elaborate entirely upon FERC and NERC compliance. You’ll know the all-too-common mistakes to avoid.

Read on to learn more about these energy sector regulations.

What Is FERC?

As mentioned earlier, the FERC is the Federal Energy Regulatory Commissions. It has a lengthy history. It first appeared in the 1920s with the purpose of controlling hydropower dams.

About 10 tens years later, President Franklin D. Roosevelt changed legislation affecting monopolies in the utility sector. Then the Federal Power Act passed, requiring the Federal Power Commission to set reasonable and just wholesale prices on electricity.

Nowadays, this agency regulates the natural gas industry and oil pipelines in addition to hydroelectric projects and electricity wholesale rates. With 1200 employees and a budget of $170 million, the FERC oversees a quarter-trillion dollar industry. This places it in charge of price regulation for over 70% of the electricity in the U.S.

The five-member board of governors is pre-selected by the president. It contains five commissioners, all of which serve in five-year schedules. The president determines the chairman of the board, which means they are usually from the same political party. They serve as a tie-breaker vote in a deadlock.

Until recent times, the FERC operated quite under the radar, even though it played an important role in building the stage for deregulation. In the 1980s, the agency started to deregulate markets. Then when the Energy Policy Act was passed, the FERC was given authority to impress wholesale competition with oversight obligations.

In this new market, utility companies had to open transmission to electrical wholesalers. Some believe that the FERC has gone far from its initial standards of reasonable and just pricing, and that it has done so to allow competition to take the front lead.

What Is NERC and FERC Compliance?

Any enterprise that is associated with the interconnection, generation, or transmission of electricity in the power system of some parts of Mexico, Canada, and the United States is subject to standards of NERC.

NERC expresses that all bulk power system operators must comply with reliability standards. As a prerequisite of operation in the sector, organizations have to register with an RE.

Compliance with NERC is pre-conditioned via the FERC and the Federal Power Act. Thus, NERC measures the activities of compliance by registering and certifying organizations. They also monitor how companies cultivate power in North America.

Noncompliance leads to violations. The violations are subject to penalties that vary based on duration and severity. High-level and specialized reliability functions demand special certifications.

When the organization is violating the standards, REs will examine applicable penalties and also monitor for future compliance.

Four Pillars Of Success

Four guiding pillars define NERC reliability regulations. NERC has these well-defined, and in their words, they are:

Reliability

Addressing identifiable events and risks, thus improving the reliability of the power system.

Assurance

Assuring the industry, government, and public in the reliable performance of the system.

Learning

Promoting continuous improvement of operations. This includes adapting to learned lessons from the power system.

Risk-Based Approach

Focusing on resources, attention, and decision issues most important to reliability. Regulating reliability through critically-assessed risk activities.

These principles support the strategic goals of NERC in the areas of:

  1. Compliance & Standards – to develop reasonable, clear, and sound obligatory reliability standards in an efficient and timely manner
  2. The risk to reliability – to be an authentic and potent authority that is objective, fair, and independent without conflict of interest
  3. Coordination and collaboration – to promote a compliance culture with obligatory reliability standards for the entire industry

That’s how NERC defines its own success. Therefore, one can understand the mandatory and highly-regulated standard.

How to Maintain NERC Compliance

The NERC & 8 Regional Entities through the Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement Program release an implementation plan on an annual basis. This plan comes with advice for the successful monitoring of compliance and enforcement. The implementation plan outlines the elements of risk to help understand the prioritized compliance efforts.

The risk elements currently presented are:

  1. Human performance
  2. Event recovery & response
  3. Protection system failures
  4. Monitoring & situational awareness
  5. Extreme physical events
  6. Critical infrastructure protection
  7. Management & maintenance of BPS assets
  8. System analysis and planning

For registered enterprises, NERC has audits every six years. For those who are certified, audits happen once every three years. The Regional Entities provide worksheets that outline the information required for audits called Reliability Standard Audit Worksheets. Third-party entities can supply services that support NERC compliance activities, such as self-certification.

They can assist in the identification of procedure gaps, mock audits, and policy creation, as well as compliance testing and management guidance. They can also provide mitigation planning, personal training, and maintenance reviews.

The certification consists of organization registration, certification, compliance investigation, and complaint resolve.

NERC Compliance Issues

Much of North America’s infrastructure is interconnected, international, and complex. Because of this, NERC works across and with governmental agencies, mitigating boundaries to foster standards, cooperation, activity monitoring, and penalty levying.

NERC knows that not all incidents can be mitigated, even with the best practices and standards in place. However, by having their set of standards that are consistently enforced, NERC can reduce the incidents tremendously.

NERC standards consider the quick response benefits crucial. Also recovery is an important part of the infrastructure. When an incident does happen, it’s quickly mitigated and addressed.

NERC Resolved

Now that you have a full understanding of NERC and FERC compliance, you are well on your way to ensure your enterprise is free of penalization. It can be difficult to ensure compliance, but it’s certainly possible.