A great dialogue continues here in Baltimore on accelerating industrial energy efficiency and combined heat and power (CHP) in the region.
Not only do public policies need to provide a solid framework that allows for CHP to be broadly deployed, but champions among end users really need to drive projects and help other stakeholders understand their value propositions.
Those points were driven home particularly by John Baker, Associate Vice Chancellor for Facilities Management at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, as well as speakers from New Jersey and New York, including Brian Platt of NYSERDA, Mike Winka, director of the Office of Clean Energy in New Jersey, and Steven Goldenberg, chief counsel to the New Jersey Large Energy Users Coalition.
From UMass Med's perspective, the key to the installation of a large-scale co-generation facility on campus was fostering "leadership's appetite for true sustainability," according to Baker. "Luckily, from my perspective, we've been able to do that." But as simple as that might sound, finding those individual project "champions" isn't always easy. "As I look across our sister campuses, they just don't have the engineering capacity where it needs to be," he noted. And when it comes to selling clean energy projects, like CHP, to financial officers, "they start rolling their eyes," he related. Of course, it helped that National Grid helped by providing a financial incentive for the project in the amount of $5,625,000, which is the largest incentive offered to date via the Green Communities Act-enabled MassSave program. The result was a project recognized by NEEP as our State Champion for Energy Efficiency in 2012. See: http://neep.org/neep-summit/summit-history/business-recognition-archive-2012/umms
Less positive was a description of some of the policy developments in New Jersey, where Gov. Chris Christie over the last three years has raided hundreds of millions of dollars from the state's Clean Energy Fund. Absent the ability to offer incentives to develop new systems, large industrial energy users are daunted by the lack of certainty as to what might be available to them support industrial efficiency projects, including CHP. Clean Energy Office Director Mike Winka noted one solution to that problem might be found in including CHP as part of an energy efficiency portfolio standard, drawing an analogy to the state's large-scale solar energy deployments that were realized as a result of the state's renewable portfolio standard.
In New York, according to NYSERDA's Brian Platt, the state's public service commission has been very supportive of creating a platform for an aggressive CHP program. However, he also noted a unique barrier in New York, in that that same commission has also created a fair amount of overlap and confusion among customers by making both NYSERDA and the distribution utilities responsible for meeting goals under the state's energy efficiency portfolio standard, but without providing sufficient guidance or rules for how to do so in a complementary, as opposed to competitive way. NEEP and others have provided exactly that same recommendation to the PSC, and we continue to hope for some improvements to those processes in the near future.