Combined Heat & Power Saver/Savior at TCNJ

CHP Proves More Reliable When Battling Hurricane

EDISON, N.J.--()--It’s been a couple of weeks since Hurricane Sandy hit the eastern seaboard of the US, causing power outages for over 8 million utility customers. “When the hurricane warnings became more and more threatening, we couldn’t take any chances,” said Lori Winyard, Director, Energy and Central Facilities at TCNJ. “Combined heat and power allowed our central plant to operate in island mode without compromising our power supply – or educating students.” TCNJ was able to continue in “island mode,” off the grid until their 26 kV line was repaired by the utility company.

“When the hurricane warnings became more and more threatening, we couldn’t take any chances”

A Combined Heat and Power (CHP) system (or cogeneration) can effectively and reliably generate useful heat and electric power “on site” using less fuel than a typical system that generates power only. CHP systems offer tremendous opportunities for customers with predictable and consistent heat and power needs (particularly large commercial, industrial, and institutional facilities), providing potential for significant economic savings and reductions in fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Now the other advantage comes to light, reliability.

Distributed energy resources like gas turbines, and gas reciprocating engines are becoming increasingly competitive with grid power on both a cost and reliability basis. When they are fueled by natural gas their emissions are much lower than traditional diesel-fueled standby generation and the surplus of shale gas in the US is keeping natural gas prices low. As an added benefit, the natural gas "grid" of pipelines is more storm resistant than the electric grid.

As proponents of combined heat and power (CHP) and methane-based “Bio-Power” plants, Concord is responsible for over 15 onsite generation plants in operation today. “The public sector and utilities should seriously consider programs to rapidly deploy distributed energy resources. Onsite generation is a short term complement to the massive planned upgrades to the transmission and distribution grid,” said Michael Fischette, Concord’s CEO, “Both are necessary to ensure reliable power. Through direct investment, engineering assistance for utility customers, loans or other financing options, and changes to local building codes, our power generation infrastructure can be better equipped to literally weather the storm.”

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