Distributed Generation Updates

A year-long, in-depth study by the Washington, D.C.-based Consumer Energy Council of America (CECA) has found that "distributed energy resources, when properly integrated into an improved national electric power system, can foster lower prices, greater reliability and a new platform for integrated consumer services.


A year-long, in-depth study by the Washington, D.C.-based Consumer Energy Council of America (CECA) has found that "distributed energy resources, when properly integrated into an improved national electric power system, can foster lower prices, greater reliability and a new platform for integrated consumer services."

Chairing the effort was former deputy Secretary of Energy Charles Curtis, who has also served as chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The study concludes with several recommendations including:

  • Rapid adoption of consensus standards for interconnection of DG into the grid.

  • Quick action by regulatory authorities at all levels to "fast track" the use of existing and new standby and emergency power facilities to meet energy shortages and power reliability problems.

  • Development of creative new rate structures and business arrangements for DG.

  • Higher priority for federal funding of DG research and development.

For further information on the CECA study, visit the Web at: www.cecarf.org .

Other DG Reports

Biomass micro. The world's largest biomass-powered microturbine was dedicated in August at the Lopez Canyon Landfill in Lake View Terrace, Calif. Gas from decomposing waste is being used to fuel 50 30-kW microturbines.

California. The state's Public Utilities Commission has launched a self-generation incentive program that encourages customers to install on-site power. The incentives vary. Those wishing to install photovoltaics or fuel cells can obtain a subsidy of $4.50 per watt, up to half the cost on projects up to 1 mW. Those installing microturbines can get subsidies of $1 per mW, up to 30% of the project cost.

Deregulation. "Distributed generation may be the key to making deregulation work," according to a headline in an energy supplement to the Sept. 17 Wall Street Journal. According to the report, "factors that will continue to boost distributed generation in the long term are the digital economy and a continual deregulation of the electricity markets, which can mean prices fluctuate by the hour, making distributed generation more cost-effective at certain points."

Research. The U.S. Department of Energy has let $18.5 million in contracts to seven industry teams for research into first-generation on-site packaged cooling, heating and power for commercial buildings. According to Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham, "Approximately two-thirds of the fuel energy used to generate electricity in the U.S. is wasted in the form of lost heat." Combined heat-and-power units can achieve efficiencies of 70% or greater.

Industry partners, who will each provide additional funding, include Capstone Turbine, Honeywell, the Gas Technology Institute, Ingersoll Rand, United Technologies and Burns and McDonnell.

Tecogen. Formerly a subsidiary of Waltham, Mass.-based Thermo Electron—a specialty company in the distributed generation market—Tecogen claims an installed base of more than 1,000 units. It recently signed an agreement with IMPCO Technologies to purchase $4 million in natural-gas-driven engine systems over the next two years.

Utilities promote DG. Among the utilities that are promoting DG, according to Restructuring Today newsletter, are Florida Power (Progress Energy), which is "providing C&I buyers with tailor-made onsite generation," and New Jersey Natural Gas, which has proposed lowering the cost-per-therm price for commercial and residential customers who use distributed generation.

Web links. More information on DG can be found at these web sites:

Enabling Distributed Generation and Demand Response With Enterprise Energy Management Systems, a white paper by Rene Jonker and Patricia Dijak of Power Measurement Ltd., can be downloaded for free (after registration) at: www.powermeasurement.com .

National Guidelines For Implementing Distributed Generation and Related Services, from the National Energy Marketers Association, can be downloaded from: www.energymarketers.com .

A speech by U.S. Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham to the San Francisco Bay Area Council on July 19, with favorable remarks on distributed generation and reliability, is available at: www.energy.gov/HQDocs/speeches .

From Pure Power, Winter 2001.

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