9.28.2015

Cuomo announces expansion of clean energy projects


Combined Heat and Power Projects to Help Hospitals and Schools Expand Energy Efficiency

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced 53 state-supported projects are underway or set to begin in New York to provide clean, resilient on-site power for hospitals, schools and other buildings, as well as reduce demand on the state’s power grid. When completed, these projects will increase the total number of combined heat and power systems in the state by approximately 10 percent.

“New York is committed to a clean energy grid that also reduces our electricity demand, saving money for taxpayers and businesses," Governor Cuomo said. "These projects will help contribute to this goal, cutting existing energy consumption and working toward creating a sustainable and resilient community."

Combined heat and power is a technology that produces both electricity and heat to achieve greater energy efficiency, one of the goals of the Governor's Reforming the Energy Vision strategy. Also known as co-generation, combined heat and power uses on-site power generation to provide efficient and affordable energy, often shaving 15 to 30 percent off existing energy consumption. It is currently employed in more than 500 buildings in New York State, which is equivalent to approximately 12 percent of the 4,100 buildings nationwide that use the technology. 

When the 53 pending projects are completed and join the ranks of previously-supported projects, total New York State Energy Research and Development Authority-supported combined heat and power systems will offset more than 200 megawatts of grid power, equivalent to the energy needed to power more than 32,000 homes. View a list of projects here.

These systems save energy in a variety of ways. By generating power on-site, the technology is more efficient than sending power over power lines, which lose an estimated 6 percent of power due to resistance. By capturing exhaust heat, the user reduces the need to run separate boilers, heaters or electric chillers. An additional benefit of many of the systems is that units are able to continue operating during a power outage, providing a measure of resiliency in the event of major storms.

Combined heat and power also played a critical role in providing uninterrupted energy to facilities in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. In the event of wide-scale electrical outages, on-site generation improves a system's ability to provide greater resiliency and reliability by acting as a main component of a community's microgrid.

Richard Kauffman, Chairman of Energy and Finance for New York, said, “By improving a building’s energy efficiency, a combined heat and power system provides significant cost-savings to companies, while also reducing energy demands on the grid. Under the Governor’s REV strategy, strengthening the resiliency of our energy systems is a key goal, and this technology will help ensure that public facilities like hospitals and schools will be able to maintain critical operations and provide vital services during major storms and power outages.”

"Combined heat and power provides a significant opportunity for ratepayers to save energy, and it is encouraging to see how many interested facilities recognize the value of CHP technology," said John B. Rhodes, President and CEO, NYSERDA. "By significantly reducing demand on the electric grid, the combined heat and power investment is helping to achieve Governor Cuomo's Reforming the Energy Vision goals, while allowing ratepayers to reduce their energy costs as well as their environmental impact."

Examples of these systems can be found at sites across the state, from medical centers to universities and hotels. While most systems run on natural gas, other types operate on biogas produced through anaerobic digestion of waste water or organic farm waste, and a combined heat and power site at a landfill near Buffalo runs on landfill gas.

Organizations that have installed Combined Heat and Power systems with New York State Energy Research and Development Authority support say the benefits were quickly obvious. Albany Medical Center, for example, estimates that a 4.6 megawatt unit, installed about two years ago, provides electricity at a cost 22 percent less than from the electric grid. The campus is also saving additional money by receiving free steam from the unit, which provides about half the center's power needs and one-third of its steam needs.

Karen Seward, Albany Medical Center's Director of Engineering, said, “Combined heat and power produces quality power that is also reliable. Between the CHP plant and emergency generators, we could run the entire hospital if we lost our electric feeds. In this day and age, you have to have a lot of redundancies in place to keep your facility running."

Bates Troy, an industrial laundry service in Binghamton, installed a unit in May. The company provides linens to hospitals and other healthcare institutions throughout Central New York and the Southern Tier, a vital service that requires back-up in case of a power outage.

"Rather than just install a simple back-up generator that may never run, we decided to go with a CHP system to generate our own electricity and have a redundant power system at the same time," said Ed Arzouian, compliance and special projects coordinator for Bates Troy. "If we can also save some money or stabilize our costs in the process, it’s an additional benefit."

Clarkson University's Technology Advancement Center has LEED Gold certification, due to its state-of-the-art heating and cooling, passive solar and rainwater collection systems, among other innovations. The building's combined heat and power, along with an absorption chiller, can produce power, heating and cooling year round.

"In the event of a power outage, we can use our combined heat and power primarily for power, while still reaping a heating and/or cooling benefit," said University Engineer Michael Tremper.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority is providing more than $41 million through its combined heat and power program to the 53 new systems, while private investment for those systems totals more than $217 million. The Authority would continue to offer assistance for combined heat and power under the proposed Clean Energy Fund.

About Reforming the Energy Vision
Reforming the Energy Vision is Governor Andrew Cuomo’s strategy to build a clean, resilient and affordable energy system for all New Yorkers. It will grow the state’s clean energy economy, support innovation, ensure grid resilience, mobilize private capital, create new jobs, and increase choice and affordability for energy consumers. Successful initiatives already launched as part of REV include NY Sun, NY Green Bank, NY Prize, K-Solar, and a commitment to improve energy affordability for low-income communities. To learn more, visit www.ny.gov/REV4NY/.

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