On-Site Generators Weather the Blackout Storm

While most of the New York City metropolitan was in the dark during the massive power blackout earlier this month, KeySpan Corporation points out that hospitals, businesses, and office and apartment buildings that generate their own electricity had power throughout the ordeal.

New York, New York – August 27, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] KeySpan notes that one of the bright spots during the blackout was the performance of distributed-generation (DG) technology, which allows large consumers of electricity to generate their own power independent of local grids. DG includes technologies such as microturbines, cogeneration units, and fuel cells. Even solar photovoltaic (PV) and small wind turbines can act as, or augment DG systems which can provide electricity to apartment complexes, nursing homes, hospitals, and office buildings. When the lights went out in the blackouts, these facilities continued to have critical levels of electric power. Most DG technology incorporates cogeneration, which generates electricity and also captures heat energy to provide steam and hot water. Cogeneration customers typically save thousands of dollars each year in energy bills and may recoup their capital investment in the power plant in only three years, said KeySpan. “Distributed-generation technology is clean, efficient, and cost-effective,” said Robert B. Catell, Chairman and CEO of KeySpan Corporation. “The value of this technology was never clearer than during the blackout. While so many New Yorkers were in the dark, gas customers who had wisely chosen to produce their own electric power continued to have heat and light throughout the crisis.” According to KeySpan, Fuel cells, which convert the chemical energy of hydrogen (which can be derived from natural gas) directly into electricity without any combustion and with virtually no pollution, proved to be an extremely reliable source of power during the blackout. A 200 kW, PC25 fuel cell provided uninterrupted power to the police station in Central Park. KeySpan is the authorized service provider for the PC25 fuel cells, which are manufactured by UTC Fuel Cells, a part of the UTC Power unit of the United Technologies Corp. Both large-scale commercial and residential DG plants in New York are eligible for local and state tax incentives and grants from the New York State Energy Research and Development Agency. KeySpan, a distributor of natural gas, designs, installs, and maintains on-site generation systems throughout the New York City tri-state area. The company also maintains and helped keep the backup power systems operating at facilities throughout New York City, including the Brooklyn Marriott Hotel, a number of New York City agencies, Bellevue Hospital, SUNY Downstate Hospital, and EMMIS and Infinity broadcasting companies. On Long Island, KeySpan designed and constructed a cogeneration system for Laurel Homes, a residential complex that belongs to the Town of North Hempstead Housing.
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