NYPA President Cites Strong Potential of Combined Heat and Power Projects

Steve Shoenholz

June 20, 2002


NEW YORK—New York Power Authority (NYPA) President and Chief Executive Officer Eugene W. Zeltmann said Thursday that small, localized projects producing both heat and power could one day transform the ways in which electricity is generated and consumed.

Speaking at a conference on combined heat and power (CHP) in New York State, Zeltmann said such technologies and other forms of distributed generation, in which power sources are located near consumers, “are moving beyond the fringe and into the energy mainstream.”

Zeltmann’s remarks came on a day on which Gov. George E. Pataki announced that the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority will commit $24 million to install CHP projects throughout the state and further develop relevant technologies.

Welcoming the governor’s announcement, Zeltmann said that, despite the need to bolster the power supply system to meet future requirements, a number of companies have dropped plans to build large new generating plants and that investment in the transmission system is largely on hold.

“Distributed generation—and particularly CHP—have the potential to help fill the gap for the short term,” Zeltmann said.  “Looking further ahead, they could transform the ways in which we make electricity and the manner in which we use it.”

He said CHP and distributed generation are in line with Govenor Pataki’s clean-energy agenda for New York State, including an executive order that the governor issued last year requiring state agencies to meet ambitious goals for use of renewable energy sources and energy efficiency.

Zeltmann told the audience at the Sheraton New York Hotel that the current move to CHP, or cogeneration, is “motivated by a need for energy reliability and a desire for green power alternatives.  And it’s viewed as a solution to the congestion that often plagues transmission networks.”

The Power Authority’s CHP program, Zeltmann said, focuses on environmentally positive fuel cells and microturbines.

NYPA’s four fuel cells, all 200-kilowatt (kw) units, are located at the New York Aquarium, the Central Park Police Station and North Central Bronx Hospital in New York City and at the Westchester County wastewater treatment plant in Yonkers.  The city units run on natural gas, while the Yonkers project is the world’s first commercial fuel cell to use the anaerobic digester gas (ADG) that is a byproduct of wastewater treatment, avoiding the environmental impacts of burning off the gas into the air.

Zeltmann said NYPA intends to install eight more fuel cells, using ADG, at wastewater treatment plants in New York City as part of its voluntary program to more than offset the minimal emissions from 10 small power plants it completed in the city last year in a successful effort to help avert blackouts and price spikes.

Anaeorbic digester gas also powers two 30-kw microturbines that NYPA has provided at the Town of Lewiston’s wastewater treatment plant in Niagara County.  The units have cut emissions to the air by about 90 percent compared with a previous diesel generator.  Waste heat from power production supplies hot water for the treatment plant.