Stop could mean go on Metro
Metro and other transit agencies across the country are hoping to save money by storing energy created when subways put on the brakes.
For years, subway cars have been able to recycle some of the energy created when they brake. They turn resistance into energy to help power the train or others running on the rails at the same time.
But much of the energy is wasted by the time the train stops braking. Now, Metro, along with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) in Philadelphia and transit agencies in New York and Los Angeles are experimenting with ways to store that power in batteries so it can be put back into their system later.
Metro's board of directors approved a $300,000 test program (PDF) funded by the Federal Transit Administration in June. According to Metro spokeswoman Angela Gates, Metro is preparing to issue a request for proposals soon for a company to install energy storage equipment and evaluate possible savings for the rail system. Metro hopes to have the pilot program completed and to receive a report on the possible savings by fall 2011.
SEPTA is setting out on a pilot project at one of its substations and thinks it could ultimately save 10 percent on power costs. The Metropolitan Transit Authority in New York is in the early stages of storing such power.
The American Public Transit Association is studying the potential benefits of what is known as "wayside storage," storing such energy somewhere other than the rails or the car itself, both of which have limited capacity, said Martin Schroeder, APTA's chief engineer.
"Instead of burning it up on top of the car, you put that additional current into battery storage," he said. The biggest challenge, Schroeder said, will likely be the costs of the batteries, which can be hundreds of thousands of dollars each.
-- Associated Press and staff reports
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