CHP facilities dominate 2010 Pacesetter Plant Awards

The prolonged turndown in the US economy suffocated construction of new generating plants in 2010. Electricity suppliers had spent the previous two years convincing themselves things weren’t as bad as they seemed and that a rebound was overdue. By the time 2010 rolled around, they were pretty well convinced there was little demand for new capacity and the construction pipeline all but dried up. The first two articles in this issue (“By the Numbers”) illustrate just how tough things were, and continue to be.

Thus there were relatively few large-scale power projects entering service last year that might qualify as Pacesetter Plants as defined by the editors. In fact, just slightly more than 6000 MW of gas-turbine-based generation began operating in 2010 and half that was peaking capacity. Simply put, last year was the worst year in terms of new capacity additions since before the bubble, which began in 1999.

So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that CHP facilities funded by universities and government would get most of the recognition for innovation in the power sector. The pathway to public and institutional financing of power projects is long and torturous. It takes years—often more than a decade—to get the support required. But once funded, these projects usually continue to move forward—poor economy or not.

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Stony Brook. The only utility generating facility recognized as a 2010 Pacesetter was Massachusetts Municipal Electric Co’s Stony Brook Energy Center—for maintaining plant value through technological upgrades to address changing market conditions. Spend a day at this well-maintained facility with Plant Manager Karl Winkler and his staff and you come to appreciate the work done since COD three decades ago to keep the plant competitive in the New England generation market (Fig 1).

Most recently, Stony Brook replaced its legacy controls with a modern PLC-based system to assure the operational flexibility and reliability required to meet today’s demanding grid requirements for the supply of ancillary services. Critical to achieving this objective was the work done by Innovative Control Systems Inc (ICS), Clifton Park, NY, which was acquired by Emerson Process Management as the controls upgrade project was in its final stages (Fig 2).

Details on Stony Brook and the other 2010 Pacesetter Award recipients are available at Articles on Stony Brook, the Cornell Combined Heat and Power Plant, and Oregon State University Energy Center are accessible by clicking 2Q/2010; those on the Orange County Cogeneration Plant and the Bay View Combined Cycle Cogeneration Facility by clicking 3Q/2010.

Cornell. Project Manager Tim Peer, PE, and his very capable engineering and administrative staff were recognized for transforming the university’s bootstrapped, decades-old steam supply system into a full-service utility (Fig 3). Coal-fired boilers were replaced with a gas-turbine-powered cogen system, large-scale energy-conservation and emissions-reduction solutions were implemented, and the reliability of the campus electric distribution system much improved by a complete overhaul of electrical infrastructure.

Bay View was, perhaps, an even more ambitious project than Cornell because it required a leap in faith in some of the technology employed. In brief, Mike Schreidah, PE, project manager for Toledo’s Div of Water Reclamation, led the development of a state-of-the-art combined-cycle plant capable of burning landfill, digester, and natural gases alone or in any combination to reduce the city’s carbon footprint and to provide a cost-effective highly reliable source of power for critical water-treatment facilities (Fig 4).

Keep in mind that the technology for removal of problematic siloxanes from landfill gas had virtually no commercial experience when Bay View was designed. And the idea of burning multiple fuels, including two green gases, alone or in combination in both the gas turbine and heat-recovery steam generator (supplementary firing), was simply a “dream” in the minds of many industry professionals.

Schreidah put together a blue-ribbon project team. Middough Inc, well known in “small power” was the engineer, while Solar Turbines Inc supplied the gas turbine and Rentech Boiler Systems Inc provided the heat-recovery steam generator (HRSG). Solar, assisted by HCS Group Inc regarding the handling and treatment of landfill gas, also manages the combined-cycle plant’s O&M.

Project managers were Marty Ellman, PE, for Middough, Marv Richardson for Solar, Cory Goings, PE, for Rentech, and Mike Kemp for HCS Group (Fig 5). Rick Bullard is Solar’s contract manager for plant O&M; he has experience burning landfill gas in conventional boilers.

The Toledo project was visible on many industry radar screens. Bay View accepted the Project of the Year award from Victoria Ludwig of EPA’s Landfill Methane Outreach Program the day before Schreidah received the COMBINED CYCLE Journal’s 2010 Pacesetter Plant Award (Fig 6). Previously, the Northern Ohio Chapter of the Assn of Energy Engineers had recognized Bay View for innovation in the design of cogeneration and renewable-energy projects.

Orange County received the CCJ’s pacesetter award

for reducing both emissions and the cost of energy while improving the reliability of electrical and thermal energy supply to Santa Ana’s Civic Center Campus. Further, the cogeneration project cited was a catalyst for conservation upgrades to government office buildings consistent with LEED initiatives.

Were there an award for perseverance, Orange County would have won that hands down. Gus Fisher (No. 3 in Fig 7), manager of facilities operations for the county, was a young engineer in the mid 1980s when he and colleagues at Central Utility Facility first proposed building a cogeneration plant to serve the surrounding campus.

Oregon State. Larrie Easterly, the project manager for the OSU Energy Center, and the university’s engineering manager, guided design and construction of the new facility, which looks more like a research lab than a powerplant, start to finish (Fig 8).

The award reads: “For replacing an antiquated central plant with a combined-cycle energy center designed to the highest LEED standards. Green features include rainwater harvesting for boiler makeup, energy recovery for domestic hot water and space heating, passive ventilation, natural lighting, and the ability to burn biodiesel and methane in both the gas turbine and HRSG to support university research.”

Solar and Rentech received special recognition from the editors for designing and supplying gas turbines and HRSGs to meet the individual needs of all four CHP plants receiving the 2010 Pacesetter Plant Award (Figs 9 and 10). Characteristics of the steam and electric generating equipment include operational flexibility, high efficiency, low emissions, high reliability, and the capability to burn conventional fuel as as well as landfill gas, digester gas, biodiesel, and methane. CCJ

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