No matter who wins the US presidential race in November, the stars are aligned for growth in combined heat and power, according to Joe Allen, chairman of the US Combined Heat and Power Association.
“The issues related to CHP on both tickets are the same when you look at energy independence, clean energy, energy security ” all the things that CHP brings to the energy debate. So regardless of how the election turns out, we should continue to see a bright future for CHP,” said Allen, who was among several CHP advocates who spoke Wednesday at the organization’s annual gathering in Washington, DC.
About 71 percent of US CHP plants use natural gas, so the commodity’s low prices are spurring a CHP renaissance, according to Bruce Hedman, vice president of ICF International. Hedman’s organization is tracking about 31 GW of US CHP projects that have “high probability” of beginning operation by 2016. The US now has about 82 GW of installed CHP.
The industry also is buoyed by US president Barack Obama‘s recent executive order calling for 40 GW of CHP development by 2020.
“It is a really big deal when you get the President’s attention on these issues, and he moves forward on an executive order like this,” said Kathleen Hogan, deputy assistant secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the Department of Energy.
While the 40 GW is a target, not a mandate, the executive order is likely to focus state and federal policymakers on removing historic barriers to CHP, according to several speakers.
They described utility resistance that takes the form of unfavorable interconnection and net metering rules and in some states standby rates and exit fees.
“Always the big elephant in the room is the utility business model,” Allen said.
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