Legislation unveiled last Tuesday on Capitol Hill would ensure that combined heat and power (CHP) systems are allowed to interconnect nationwide with the electricity grid, while also reducing energy costs and harnessing power that would otherwise be wasted.

The Combined Heat and Power Advancement Act of 2001 was unveiled by Sens. James Jeffords (I-VT) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), along with Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) and Charles Schumer (D-NY). Companion legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives.

Jeffords said that CHP represents an “innovative approach” to expanding energy supply by maximizing energy efficiency. “CHP systems are over 80% energy efficient, well above the 33% average for conventional electrical generation technologies. Through CHP, the U.S. can obtain more than twice the power from the same amount of energy.”

The legislation drew praise from Trigen Energy Corp., a leading developer, owner and operator of industrial, commercial and institutional energy systems in North America. “It is clear that we have turned the corner in recognizing the immense economic and environmental value of combined heat and power and other forms of on-site energy,” said Trigen CEO Rich Kessel. “We are very pleased that members from both parties are committed to eliminating the barriers to highly efficient energy projects that can immediately reduce costs for commercial, institutional and industrial customers.”

According to Trigen, the proposed language would require FERC to establish uniform, nationwide and nondiscriminatory interconnect standards within one year from enactment. Such technical standards would address considerations such as preventing backfeed to the grid and an entire host of safety issues. Trigen said that to the extent a generating facility meets the standards and pays the costs for interconnecting to the grid, it would not be denied its interconnection request.

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