Wednesday, January 26, 2011

New York University Cogeneration Plant Completed

New York University has completed its natural gas-fired Co-Generation (CoGen) plant, which decreases greenhouse gas emissions by 23% while reducing air pollutants by 68% compared to its 30-year-old, oil-fired CoGen predecessor. Located beneath a renovated public plaza at 251 Mercer Street , the new CoGen plant approaches 90% energy efficiency while producing 13.4 megawatts of electricity—twice the output of the previous system.

The comprehensive, state-of-the-art $125 million CoGen upgrade and public plaza installation project took 28 months to complete. It is the one of the largest private CoGen plants in New York City, and provides electricity to 22 NYU buildings, up from 7 buildings with the old plant. The new NYU CoGen system will also produce heat and hot and chilled water to 37 buildings on the Washington Square Campus, and is expected to save the university $5-8 million in energy related costs per year.

CoGen is the cornerstone of NYU’s 2010 Climate Action Plan (CAP), a comprehensive approach to reducing the University’s carbon footprint and enhancing its overall sustainability. NYU’s CAP was spurred on in part by the signing of Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC Climate Challenge, which calls on all city colleges and universities to voluntarily reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2017.

Prior to the CoGen upgrade, NYU had made significant progress in reducing its greenhouse gas emissions, cutting them by 20-25% over just four years, from a peak of ~179,000 Metric Tons Carbon Equivalent (MTCE) in 2006 to ~125,000 MTCE in 2010. With the addition of CoGen coming on line, NYU’s total emissions are expected to drop approximately 20% more, to about ~98,500 MTCE. This not only fulfills the Mayor’s Challenge, but surpasses it by an additional ~10% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, reaching a total of ~40%.

Key statistics of NYU’s CoGen:

• Two 5.5 megawatts (MW) gas turbines and a 2.4MW steam turbine;
• Approaching 90% overall efficiency;
• Providing electricity to 22 buildings up from 7 with the old fuel oil CoGen;
• Providing heat to 37 buildings;
• 23% decrease in greenhouse gas emissions;
• 68% reduction of EPA Criteria Air Pollutants (e.g. NOx, SOx, PM-10);
• One of the largest private co-gen plants in NYC;
• Produces twice the electrical power of the old facility – at 13.4 megawatts – and avoids the combustion of 500,000 gallons of fuel oil annually;
• All-digitally controlled for better monitoring and maximum efficiency.
• Installation of a 13,000 sq. ft. public plaza on Mercer Street using native plant species, and providing 190 linear feet of seating space.

How NYU’s CoGen Works:

Compressed natural gas fuels twin high-tech gas turbines that work very much like jet engines. As the turbines operate, their rotation is used to generate 11 megawatts of electricity, and the hot waste exhaust from them is directed to heat recovery generators, which produce steam.

Once 600 pounds of super-heated steam is created in the generators, it is piped to a turbine electrical generator, which produces an additional 2.4 megawatts of electricity. After the steam has passed through the turbine generator, it is used to make hot water for the campus in two high-temp heat exchangers, and it is used to operate a turbine-driven chiller to produce 2,000 tons of chilled water. In using a mechanical energy turbine, being turned by steam to run the chiller’s compressor, this further increases the efficiency of the CoGen plant as it saves electric energy.

About the Renovated Mercer Plaza:

NYU—in cooperation with Community Board #2—convened a 15-member Community Advisory Committee (CAC) comprised of neighbors, Community Board members, a local business, elected officials, and an NYU student and professor to assist in the planning and design of the new plaza, which was constructed directly above the CoGen plant.

Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects (MNLA) was hired to lead the project, and the community-engaged process has resulted in a new green space that integrates the interests and concerns of as many stakeholders as possible. Prior to construction of CoGen, the site contained two parallel sidewalks and two fenced/gated areas with trees, shrubbery, and some ground cover. There was no seating at street level.

Conceived as a green urban plaza beneath the canopy of a park, three garden-size “rooms” with wood decks and 190 linear feet of benches have been carved out of the planting beds to provide space for sitting and relaxing. A strong, seasonal palette of 18 native plants species, including 22 new trees, creates a lively ground plane for the benches and informal seating located throughout the upper and lower plazas. The lighting has been designed to allow for ample security but not to disturb neighboring buildings at night.

About New York University:

New York University is located in the heart of Greenwich Village. Founded in 1831, it is one of America’s foremost research universities and a member of the selective Association of American Universities. It is one of the largest private universities, it is a leader in attracting international students and scholars in the U.S, and it sends more students to study abroad than any other U.S. college or university. Through its 18 schools and colleges, NYU conducts research and provides education in the arts and sciences, law, medicine, business, dentistry, education, nursing, the cinematic and performing arts, music and studio arts, public administration, social work, and continuing and professional studies, among other areas.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

NY ISO Approves Ten Year Electricity Plan

The Board of Directors of the New York Independent System Operator has approved a plan for meeting New York State’s power needs of the next ten years.

NYISO’s statement and the report

Thursday, January 6, 2011

PEER Hammers NJ Governor Christie on DEP Staffing

Press Release From Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER)

Corporate Political Donors Control DEP Toxic Clean-Up Oversight & Rulemaking

Trenton — Key figures in a corporate pay-for-play scandal also occupy controlling positions on state “stakeholder” committees setting toxic clean-up standards which affect their business dealings, potentially saving them significant sums while effectively shielding them from enforcement actions from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). PEER is calling for removal of participating corporations from DEP “technical committees” and for an audit of their cases before DEP.

Corporations with millions in state contracts have donated large sums to an ironically named “Reform New Jersey” group that pushed for the privatization agenda of Governor Chris Christie, left. Run by key Christie advisors, Reform New Jersey appeared to violate state pay-to-play prohibitions which bar contributions in connection with award of public contracts. In late December, the group was disbanded after its contributors were revealed. Gov. Christie has denied any knowledge of its activities, despite being the keynote speaker at Reform New Jersey fundraisers.

Some of those same corporations and redevelopment consultants also sit on DEP stakeholder committees charged with re-writing regulations governing toxic site clean-up. For example, Langan Engineering (which gave $25,000 to Reform New Jersey) has a dominating delegation of nine representatives. One of its senior associates, tapped by Gov. Christie, serves on the DEP Site Remediation Professional Licensing Board, which oversees newly authorized privatized clean-ups of contaminated sites.

These slots give these firms inside access and influence that can work to shield them from oversight or enforcement by DEP. As one DEP employee recently wrote:

“Langan has been given unprecedented access to DEP records and computer databases that their competitors do not have. The big ‘joke’ at DEP is that we work for them. This despite the fact that everyone in the Site Remediation Program (hundreds of scientists and engineers) can give examples of shoddy, unprofessional, inaccurate, and even unethical product from Langan over the years.”

“At DEP, the Christie ‘streamlining’ agenda is a fa├žade for hollowing out health safeguards and filling them in with self-regulation by the polluting corporations and their paid consultants,” stated New Jersey PEER Director Bill Wolfe. “This is the foxes running a chicken take-out restaurant from the henhouse.”

In a December 31 letter, PEER asked DEP Commissioner Bob Martin to remove the Reform New Jersey participants from agency boards and committees and to audit how the firms’ cases were being handled by DEP. Martin has yet to reply to the letter.

Not coincidentally, New Jersey DEP is in the process of lowering standards for privatized clean-ups of toxic sites, including relaxation of vapor intrusion protections and requirements for complete remediation. At the same time, the state is reeling from health problems arising at “former” toxic sites, such as most recently Pompton Lakes, that have been inadequately cleaned up.

“How is New Jersey’s economy helped by more toxic clean-ups that leave neighbors and future residents at risk?” asked Wolfe.


New Jersey PEER is a state chapter of a national alliance of state and federal agency resource professionals working to ensure environmental ethics and government accountability.