New ComEd program funds studies for combined heat and power (CHP) systems

New ComEd program funds studies for combined heat and power (CHP) systems

October 6

ComEd has launched a new type of energy assessment this year for study of combined heat and power (CHP) systems, sometimes referred to as cogeneration or "cogen" systems.

CHP technologies allow simultaneous production of electricity and usable heat, representing a thermodynamically efficient use of fuel. G/BA is an approved technical assistance provider for the assessments, which can analyze the performance of existing CHP plants or the feasibility of implementing new ones. Funding  support is provided under ComEd's Smart Ideas for Your Business initiative. (The CHP program is for both private commercial and nonprofit facilities, but is not applicable to public facilities that use DECO incentive programs instead of Smart Ideas.)
Eligible clients fall into two general categories:  

  • ComEd customers with facilities that have at least 1,000 kW electrical demand, combined with high thermal requirements and an interest in cogeneration.
  • Existing sites with electrical generating capability that has been idled for the past three years, which could benefit from addition of heat recovery capabilities or electrical interconnection upgrades to allow more frequent use of the generator asset.  

Incentives from ComEd come in three parts. First, ComEd will split the cost of a CHP assessment, with an incentive limit of $25,000. During the implementation phase, ComEd will pay 50% of interconnection fees, up to $25,000. And after implementation of a new CHP plant or upgrades, custom incentives for electricity generation and thermal output are paid, based on achieving system efficiency between 60% and 70% for systems that reach the required threshold for useful output in thermal form.
ComEd’s incentive for qualifying projects is $0.07 per annual kWh, paid on a sliding scale based on monitored total system efficiency. For projects that qualify, Nicor Gas also offers an incentive of $1 per annual therm for project sites in their service territory.

CHP 101: An Introduction to Cogeneration

CHP or cogeneration can take several forms:  

Electrical generator (taking the form of a reciprocating engine, a steam turbine, a combustion turbine, or one or more microturbines).
Heat recovery from stack exhaust or engine cooling components.
An absorption chiller using heat recovery in the summer in a combined cooling, heat, and power (CCHP) system.

 Good candidate facilities include sites that have a need for thermal energy year round, or that have absorption chillers to use thermal energy in the summer if reheat or process loads aren't otherwise sufficient to support a CHP system. Facilities that would benefit from added reliability of electrical service are also particularly good candidates for CHP assessments.

After the assessment process is complete, a final report will be delivered. Such a report will generally include the following items:    

  • Site description (including building operations, utility sources, and monthly utility-use profiles).
  • Current site energy efficiency status.
  • Description of the evaluated CHP project (including major equipment and efficiencies, as well as interconnection requirements)
  • Functional performance of the recommended CHP project (including a detailed breakdown of major line items, operational costs, expected savings, and the customer’s method of financing the implementation).
  • Permitting requirements.
  • Metering plan (for measurement and verification of the project, post-implementation).
  • Description of the proposed project team.
  • Anticipated implementation schedule.

A sample project: Incentives
To further clarify the available custom incentives, imagine a sample CHP project involving a 500 kW system, operating round-the-clock (8,760 hours a year). The system is 67% efficient (useful output BTU divided by input BTU). The annual useful output amounts to 4,350,000 kWh generated on-site, and 37,362 therms of heat recovered. According to the utilities’ incentive guidelines, based on total system efficiency, 70% of the electric output and 5% of the thermal output are eligible for incentives.
The facility in question would receive $124,620 in ComEd incentives (70% of the 4,380,000 kWh output, times $0.07 per kWh). The owner would also receive $1,868 from the gas utility (5% of the 37,362 therms of output, times $1 per therm).
The total incentive for this facility (exclusive of any previous assessment or implementation funding) would amount to $216,488, or $432 per kW installed.
For clients with suitable facilities and objectives, CHP systems can provide great benefits, maximizing the investment in energy resources and improving the sustainability profile. ComEd’s new assessment program gives owners an economical method for studying the possibilities. Contact G/BA today to discuss whether a CHP assessment makes sense for your facility or campus.