Two US CHP/district energy projects have received awards under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Thermal Energy Corporation (TECO) of Houston received a $10 million grant and Seattle Steam Company received nearly $19 million.

The awards were part of a wider move, under which the US Department of Energy (DOE) awarded more than $155 million in ARRA funds to 41 industrial energy efficiency projects across the country.

TECO is building a new CHP project at the Texas Medical Center, Houston, where the company provides district heating and cooling service to 18 institutions. Now under construction, the 45 MW CHP system will increase the company’s heating and cooling system efficiencies and help reduce greenhouse gases. TECO projects its CHP system will decrease local emissions by almost 83,000 tonnes of carbon equivalent per year. CHP could save TECO money as well, nearly $200 million over the next 15 years.

‘The CHP system is the cornerstone of our $368 million Phase I expansion plan,’ says Steve Swinson, TECO’s president and chief executive officer. ‘When Phase I is complete, TECO will have one of the most efficient CHP plants in the country, ensuring TECO’s energy cost will be the most competitive in our area. The funding couldn’t have come at a better time or be more welcome.’

Meanwhile, Seattle Steam Company’s long-term plan to capture waste heat and use it to create steam to heat buildings will become reality much sooner than originally projected, thanks to its DOE grant. The grant will enable the first step in a multi-year, $75 million project to deploy a CHP plant at Post Street in downtown Seattle, which is integrated into the existing electrical and thermal energy distribution networks.

The CHP plant will generate 50 MW of electrical power and 35 MW of heat to offset existing, less efficient steam and electricity production systems, said Seattle Steam CEO Stan Gent. The renovated plant at Post Street, combined with the recently installed biomass boiler at the company’s Western Avenue plant, will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% from its current level.