Hotel Industry’s First Microturbine Begins Generating Electricity

WASHINGTON-A three-story, 140 room La Quinta Inn and Suites hotel north of the Dallas/Ft. Worth airport has become what is believed to be the first hotel in the nation to install a microturbine to generate its own electricity. During the trial run of what is a one-year test program between La Quinta and TXU Energy Services, the microturbine enabled the hotel to cut its peak demand on the electricity grid by 63 percent.

The compact, self-contained 75 kilowatt Honeywell microturbine is a simple, quiet generating system that uses natural gas as its fuel source. The microturbine automatically operates during periods when it can generate electricity for less than the local utility. Hotel and TXU Energy Services employees operate the microturbine via modem during voluntary curtailments.

“We estimate that by generating their own power, La Quinta will save up to $13,000 annually, depending on the number of hours they use the system,” said Randy Tipton, TXU Energy Services director strategic marketing. Distributed generation, such as this microturbine, has the potential to be of great benefit to energy users and producers. It improves power quality and relieves congestion during critical electricity distribution times.

Jim Ackles, La Quinta’s director of energy and engineering, said La Quinta is excited about this project with TXU Energy Services. “The ability to reduce our load by 50 to 70 percent within minutes is having a positive impact on our bottomline while helping the utility grid during peak use periods. Additionally, the Honeywell microturbine provides back up power in an emergency.”

“And when we need it, it’s simple and quick to start the microturbine,” said Ackles. “Either a TXU Energy Services employee or a La Quinta employee can get the microturbine going via modem.”

“A partnership such as this, between energy provider and energy user, is what electricity competition should be all about,” said Bill Brier, EEI vice president, communication. “Importantly, La Quinta lowers its energy bill. But perhaps more important, through the new energy options of TXU Energy Services, La Quinta also gains greater competitiveness in its own industry.”

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