DOE Tours Cities to Promote Renewables and DG

Fears that building inspectors and other officials are unfamiliar with the growing range of distributed power technologies and could stunt the growth of new applications, has led the DOE’s Office of Distributed Energy Resources to start a 150-city road show.

WASHINGTON, DC, US, 2001-11-26 [] The Department of Energy expects up to 20 percent of the nation’s power to be made on-site by 2020, using everything from fuel cells to microturbines and other types of distributed generation. But when installers want to use stationary fuel cells for instance, building inspectors can have a hard time working out which of the city codes apply to such an at-home power plant or how it should be connected to the grid. The DOE officers want to teach local officials about distributed generation and why they shouldn’t fear it. Albany was the seventh city to see the tour at a day-long program at Empire State Plaza. A DOE advisor says the problem is a repeat of what happened with solar power applications years ago when building code questions and a lack of knowledge about the technology also popped up, whereas there are now national standards and codes for PV. In New York, the issues are starting to be considered with the state Department of Environmental Conservation about to begin a review of its own regulations to accommodate the small generators, and rules should be set in a year to eighteen months. DOE advisors say its a new concept to many who’ve just never thought of power generation in homes but it may be years before it becomes common. David P. Hoffman, president Celerity Energy LLC. says “It’s really not the technology. It’s the process we’re all struggling to get through.”
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