HAYWARD, Calif. - Four 75-kilowatt cogeneration systems were recently installed at Chabot College here. The systems, manufactured by Tecogen, are providing 100 percent of the energy required to heat Chabot's Olympic-sized outdoor pool and 38 percent of the electricity used throughout the rest of the campus.

Tecogen's equipment, designed to yield almost 80 percent total energy efficiency, was put into place to significantly reduce the college's energy costs. Experts at ACC Environmental Consultants, the firm that oversaw the installation, anticipate that the cogeneration systems will save Chabot College $1 million over the next 10 years.

Each on-site cogeneration module contains an engine designed to burn natural gas to power a generator, which in turn, is designed to produce electricity for the facility. According to Tecogen, which is a subsidiary of American Distributed Generation Inc. (based in Waltham, Mass.), exhaust heat is recovered to provide hot water, thereby eliminating the need for any additional gas to power boilers.

According to ACC Environmental Consultants, the technology is clean and environmentally friendly. State-of-the-art emissions controls have allowed Tecogen to satisfy even the most stringent air quality standards in the U.S., including standards established by the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) in California.

"When you combine Tecogen's high efficiency ratings with the rebates that are available in California through the California Energy Commission, PG&E, and others, you can achieve some very impressive cost savings with short-term paybacks," said Jim Soles, maintenance manager at Chabot College. "For example, the 300-kilowatt Tecogen system will generate electricity for about $.05 per kilowatt hour (kWh), compared with utility-supplied electricity, which is currently costing the college $.15 per kWh."

According to the company, these are its first factory type-tested and certified units accepted by a California utility for "simplified interconnection" under the provisions of California's Rule 21.

"We were very pleased that we were able to install these units without the traditional and costly utility requirements," said Robert A. Panora, president of Tecogen. "We are especially gratified with the cooperation by PG&E's interconnection staff while working through this new process, and we look forward to a new era of fast-track permitting for our systems in California."

In 2000, California became one of the first states in the country to establish interconnectivity standards for distributed generation (DG) technologies through the adoption of Rule 21 by the California Public Utilities Commission. Under Rule 21, specific DG systems can be pre-certified, which will qualify them for a "simplified interconnect" review process by the electric utilities, instead of the longer, more costly review that is required for non-certified units.

In addition, requirements for secondary relay devices have been waived for Tecogen installations. These devices help protect the utility grid from interruptions and disturbances that can be caused by non-certified equipment.

For more information regarding Tecogen, visit www.tecogen.com.

Publication date: 06/28/2004