24 August 2010 – The International District Energy Association (IDEA) has welcomed the inauguration of Thermal Energy Corporation’s (TECO) new CHP plant that serves institutions at the Texas Medical Center, in Houston, US.

The new 48 MW CHP plant enables TECO – an IDEA member – to meet the heating and cooling needs of its mission-critical customers without tapping the electricity grid.
‘On 23 August, demand on the Texas electric grid hit nearly 66 GW, an all-time record,’ says TECO president and CEO Stephen K Swinson.
‘The result was that electricity prices soared to approximately $2200 per MWh, compared to the $50 per MWh average. The good news is that during that period of peak demand, TECO didn’t have to buy any power from the grid. So we avoided the extreme price peaks – all because our new CHP plant is now on line.’
Burns & McDonnell provided design-build services for the project, while GE Power & Water supplied the CHP plant’s LM6000 PD Sprint gas turbine.
CHP technology dramatically increases power plant efficiency. Electricity and waste heat from TECO’s new plant will be used to produce steam and chilled water, which will be piped underground through TECO’s district cooling and heating network to customer buildings for air conditioning, space heating, dehumidification, sterilization, kitchen and laundry processes, and domestic hot water use.
The CHP plant will operate at 80% efficiency, cutting carbon dioxide emissions by more than 305,000 tons per year.
‘TECO’s new CHP plant demonstrates the immediate potential that CHP holds, not just for the Texas Medical Center, but for the rest of the nation,’ says Robert Thornton, president and CEO of the IDEA.
‘Clearly, the $10 million that the US Department of Energy allocated to TECO’s $370 million district energy/CHP project was an excellent investment, helping to generate more than 400 jobs in the process.’
There is tremendous interest in expanding the use of district energy and CHP in the US, says IDEA.
In 2009, DOE announced a funding programme for district energy, CHP and waste heat recovery through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The programme attracted more than 370 proposals with a total value of $9.2 billion, seeking to leverage $3.4 billion in federal funds with industry pledging $5.8 billion.
Read more cogeneration/CHP news.