New York REV to Increase Combined Heat and Power (CHP) by 10%

Sept. 25, 2015
New York has been a champion of combined heat and power (CHP) for many years. But now the technology — often found in microgrids — is getting a new boost under the state’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV).

Credit: US EPA Combined Heat and Power Partnership

New York has been a champion of combined heat and power (CHP) for many years. But now the technology — often found in microgrids — is getting a new boost under the state’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV).

REV heightens opportunity for CHP by disrupting the centralized utility model and creating a kind of  market exchange for distributed energy. Policymakers are still hashing out the details on how REV will work. But meanwhile, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration has been taking a series steps to keep distributed energy moving forward.

To that end, New York is in the process of boosting the number of CHP projects in the state by 10 percent with the new funding, according to information released by Cuomo’s office this week.

The New York State Energy and Research Development Authority is providing $41 million for 53 CHP projects.  Private investors are providing the remaining $217 million.

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

NY has 12 percent of U.S. CHP

CHP already is used in more than 500 buildings in New York, about 12 percent of the 4,100 buildings nationwide where the technology can be found.

Columbia University is installing the largest of the NYSERDA-backed projects, a 15-MW CHP facility. The college received $2.4 million from the state with remaining funds for the $37 million project from private sources.

Since Superstorm Sandy, CHP has won new support for its ability to keep the lights on during a grid outage, particularly when it is configured into a microgrid. Several of the 83 microgrids vying for separate NY Prize funding include CHP.

But CHP is being adopted for other reasons as well. It increases energy efficiency by reusing excess heat and lessening electric grid line loss. As a result, CHP can lower energy costs.

Undercuts grid cost by 22%

Albany Medical Center, which installed a 4.6-MW CHP unit two years ago, reported that it provides electricity at a cost 22 percent less than 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.

“Combined heat and power produces quality power that is also reliable,” said Karen Seward, Albany Medical Center’s director of engineering. “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.

“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 because of its state-of-the-art heating and cooling, passive solar and rainwater collection systems, among other innovations. The building’s CHP unit, along with an absorption chiller, can produce power, heating and cooling year round.

When the 53 pending projects are running, state-sponsored CHP will total about 200 MW, the energy needed to power more than 32,000 homes. The projects are now underway or set to begin.

The projects, which are in hospitals, schools and other buildings, are listed here. The list includes project size,  amount of public and private funding, and total cost.

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About the Author

Elisa Wood | Editor-in-Chief

Elisa Wood is an award-winning writer and editor who specializes in the energy industry. She is chief editor and co-founder of Microgrid Knowledge and serves as co-host of the publication’s popular conference series. She also co-founded, where she continues to lead a team of energy writers who produce content for energy companies and advocacy organizations.

She has been writing about energy for more than two decades and is published widely. Her work can be found in prominent energy business journals as well as mainstream publications. She has been quoted by NPR, the Wall Street Journal and other notable media outlets.

“For an especially readable voice in the industry, the most consistent interpreter across these years has been the energy journalist Elisa Wood, whose Microgrid Knowledge (and conference) has aggregated more stories better than any other feed of its time,” wrote Malcolm McCullough, in the book, Downtime on the Microgrid, published by MIT Press in 2020.

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