ESCONDIDO, Calif. - The city of Escondido in Southern California recently purchased three gas engine-driven chillers to replace an unreliable chiller plant at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido.

Three water-cooled chillers by Tecogen Inc. (Waltham, Mass.) will provide 850 tons of cooling capacity for the 194,000-square-foot facility. In addition to the three new systems, the city has been operating a 150-ton Tecochill® system to provide cooling at Escondido City Hall for the past three years. Escondido is located about 30 miles north of San Diego.

"We've tried a number of alternatives to electrical chilling at various city locations," said Dan Sadek, facilities project coordinator for the city of Escondido. "Based on the performance of the Tecochill unit we've got running at city hall, we believe that this technology is the best we've seen so far." The electric chiller-based ice system being replaced at the arts center has been problematic, with maintenance costing more than $1.4 million in the last six years. Given the high efficiency ratings of the Tecochill gas units, city officials expect to reduce annual energy costs by more than half. The Escondido City Council unanimously approved the replacement project in a public meeting in January, and the units are scheduled to be delivered later this year.

The Tecochill units can provide cooling at a significantly lower cost than conventional electric chillers by running on natural gas, which is readily available during the warmer months when demand for heating is low, but demand for air conditioning is high, says the company. The Tecochill systems are also said to be clean and nonpolluting.

Publication date: 08/16/2004