With Hurricane Sandy’s two-year anniversary approaching, Green Crown Energy expert Paul Errigo warns that continued reliance on diesel generators as a primary source for emergency backup power could again prove life threatening in the event of another natural disaster or failure of the U.S. Power Grid.
“Despite assurances that hospitals were ready for Hurricane Sandy, that optimism rested on the fact that these facilities had backup diesel-powered generators and additional fuel supplies to keep those generators running,” said Errigo, a sought-after speaker on energy-related topics, including Cogeneration. “Unfortunately, far too many of these diesel-powered generators failed, forcing hundreds of patients to be evacuated from large hospitals. One example was the evacuation of 215 patients from NYU Medical Center in Midtown Manhattan. And making matters worse, even the backup to those generators often malfunctioned from water damage — or simply refused to start.
According to Errigo, the answer to reducing the dire consequences of power outages at New York and New Jersey area hospitals, while helping to hold down energy costs, is Cogeneration. Also known as Combined Heat and Power (CHP), Cogeneration produces two types of exceptional clean energy at once: electric power and thermal energy. “This allows a building, such as a hospital, to be virtually self-contained from an energy standpoint,” he explained. “The good news is that since Hurricane Sandy, we’re seeing a dramatic increase in the number building and hospital professionals inquiring about Cogeneration at industry events.”
From an economic perspective, now is an incredible time for hospitals (and other types of buildings) to secure their energy needs through Cogeneration, Errigo asserted. For example, not only does Cogeneration slash energy costs by 40 to 60 percent – funds that can be used for additiaonl patient services — there are also extremely attractive incentive programs being offered by the government that can cover more than 50 percent of a COGEN system.
“Look, diesel generators for backup energy are great if everything works as planned,” he said. “The problem is that they often sit idle for a number of years, so nobody ever knows if they’re going to actually perform as needed when a disaster strikes. On the other hand, COGEN is running 24/7 so its reliability is unmatched. And in the event of a large scale natural disaster, obtaining the amounts of diesel fuel necessary can be challenging, which we saw during Superstorm Sandy.”
He added that with electricity being generated on site through Cogeneration, waste heat is converted into usable energy readily available for augmenting existing boilers and chillers for heating and cooling, domestic hot water or steam, and sterilization. “The best part is that this captured energy comes at no cost to the hospital, because it is a natural byproduct of the electricity produced!” Errigo said.
The U.S. Department of Energy is also an advocate for Cogeneration systems in hospitals, he pointed out, for the following reason: “Hospitals are ideal candidates for combined heat and power systems because they function 365 days a year and provide round-the-clock energy. CHP systems enable hospitals to reduce energy costs, improve environmental performance and increase energy reliability. That can mean the difference between life and death during an environmental event such as Hurricane Sandy.”
In the case of superstorm Sandy, while diesel generators were failing in many buildings and hospitals, facilities equipped with Cogeneration were able to keep their lights on and systems running, Errigo explained.
Aside from the peace of mind knowing that a hospital’s energy needs won’t be dependent solely on diesel-powered generators in times of crisis, Cogeneration makes economic sense in other ways as well, he noted. “For example, we often recommend Power Purchase Agreeemnts (PPA) to hospitals for a number of reasons. But one of the biggest reasons is the hospital gets to enjoy all of the benefits of Cogeneration with absolutely no capital outlay or ongoing operating costs. The client pays only for the energy used at 15 to 20 percent discounted rates, which is a positive for cash flow, budgeting and forecasting.”
CHP also enables hospitals and companies to position themselves as a green facility and environmentally responsible, since COGEN produces energy in a very clean way, Errigo said.
“Helping hospitals and other buildings sort out the best possible energy solutions for their unique business is what energy advisers, like those at Green Crown Energy, do on a daily basis,” he added. “Certainly, in the case of Green Crown Energy where all of our employees were impacted by Hurricane Sandy, helping New Jersey, New York and the surrounding areas become better prepared for future cataclysmic events — meteorological or otherwise — is one of our prime objectives as energy advisers.”
If you’re interested in learning more about the role CHP can play at your hospital or buildings, along with the multiple forms of electric and gas procurement programs available, contact an energy adviser at http://www.GreenCrownEnergy.com or call 877-308-2727.