200 Chestnut Ridge Road
Woodcliff Lake, NJ 07677
The Role of Microturbines and Distributed Power Generation in Addressing
America’s Energy Problems
By Rone Lewis III, Senior Vice President of Ingersoll-Rand (IR)
and President of IR’s Independent Power Sector
For Submission to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works;
Chairman Bob Smith’s (R-NH) Field Hearing in Durham, NH
May 30, 2001
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to submit for the Senate Environment and Public Works hearing record my testimony on the role of microturbine technology and distributed power generation in addressing America’s growing energy crisis.
First, let me begin by giving you some background information on Ingersoll-Rand and its Independent Power Sector. Ingersoll-Rand is an $8.8 billion company with more than 50,000 employees operating in over 100 countries. We serve four major global markets: climate control, industrial productivity, infrastructure and security and safety. In the area of Industrial Productivity, I am president of IR’s Independent Power sector, which focuses on identifying, developing and marketing alternative-power and energy-management solutions.
As you may be aware, Chairman Smith and Members of the Committee, a new type of electrical generator, called a microturbine, is rapidly becoming available to fit the electricity and heating needs of typical commercial buildings and industrial plants. About the size of a commercial refrigerator, microturbines hold great promise in supplying America’s facilities with reliable and affordable power.
Microturbines are small combustion turbines that produce anywhere from 25 to 500 kilowatts of electric power. They burn a variety of fuels such as natural gas or diesel to produce the same kind of electricity provided by a utility electrical grid. Because the gas turbine engine has relatively few moving parts, it is quite reliable and can operate for long periods - typically 8,000 hours or more - with little maintenance. Microturbines produce very low emissions as they burn fuel. They are designed to easily meet stringent environmental regulations, including California’s strict emission standards. Microturbines are also relatively quiet emitting low noise levels.
Our PowerWorks brand of microturbines, which has been in development for more than 10 years, is coming to market this fall. The headquarters for the engineering and manufacturing of the PowerWorks microturbine is located in Portsmouth, NH, on the former Pease Air Force Base.
Rone Lewis Testimony
These microturbines, which will provide 70 kilowatts of energy to customers, are designed to be placed in or near facilities such as hotels, supermarkets, hospitals, laundries, multi-family dwellings, schools and greenhouses, to name a few. These are locations that need a reliable, cost-effective and efficient energy source for electricity and heat.
A $1.4 million research grant from the U.S. Department of Energy contributed to the development of the PowerWorks microturbine, which is designed to meet the same high standards found in chillers, boilers and furnaces. Our microturbines are manufactured to operate for approximately 10 years under typical operating conditions. Through their cogeneration capability, the PowerWorks microturbines can also fulfill a facility’s hot water and other heating requirements.
PowerWorks connects directly to the electrical distribution system of a facility to provide high quality electricity. Our microturbines work 24 hours a day, seven days a week for long periods with low maintenance. Designed to help satisfy electric power needs by producing electricity at the point of consumption, the PowerWorks microturbine also supports peak shaving applications. This means that microturbines can enable businesses and consumers to reduce their reliance on the power grid, especially during costly peak use hours.
IR began the field-testing phase of its microturbine development program last fall in several kinds of facilities located throughout the United States. We plan to introduce our first commercial production units in the second half of 2001.
There is no argument that this country’s need for this type of energy is increasing at a steady rate. California’s energy crisis underscores the need for increased energy efficiency, cleaner technologies and more reliable production. Deregulation, volatile energy pricing and tighter emission regulations have all prompted an interest in energy alternatives, such as “green” technologies like the microturbines. And there is probably no better way to get reliable and affordable energy than from your own, on-site generating equipment.
Distributed energy holds great promise in the United States for improving the generation of electricity. The report released recently by Vice President Dick Cheney’s energy task force revealed that this Administration is committed to the use of renewable and alternative energy, and specifically that “microturbines could easily capture a significant share of the distributed generation market.”
Furthermore, the Cheney Report was absolutely accurate in noting several challenges to the use of distributed energy. First, there is a lack of national, uniform standards
governing interconnection of distributed energy to the local power grids, which is hampering the roll-out of the technology into the local marketplace. The microturbine industry needs a consistent, reliable process for grid interconnection approval that focuses
on practical and cost effective safety requirements; a timely approval process that prevents foot dragging on distributed power projects; and no punitive charges from the utility for either disconnecting from the grid or using the grid as a backup. The industry is also interested in support for selling unused power back to the power grid.
Long-standing regulatory policies that support monopoly supplies also must be reversed. This will increase competition, and encourage the development and environmentally-friendly alternative energy technologies. The Cheney Report correctly states, “The tools that form the necessary interface between distributed energy systems and the grid need to be less expensive, faster, more reliable and more compact.”
We are pleased that the report recommends that the President direct Energy Secretary Abraham to focus R&D efforts on integrating current alternative technology programs regarding distributed energy, hydrogen and fuel cells. Fuel cell technology is of particular interest to IR because several of our industrial products currently utilize diesel engines. Fuel cell technology promises a more environmentally sound alternative and continued federal research programs can accelerate the development of these programs.
All developers of microturbine technology would be interested in Congressional and Administration support for tax credits for companies who install or use microturbine technology. Tax credits are essential to helping businesses finance their utilization of this technology, just as they have with other alternative energy sources, such as solar power. In addition, continued investment in our nation’s natural gas infrastructure will help to ensure that a ready supply of natural gas is available.
We look forward to working with the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, the rest of the Congress, and the Bush Administration to develop the necessary regulatory and legislative support that would make power from microturbine technology more readily available. We believe that once the technical, business and regulatory barriers are removed, distributed power generation will be able to fulfill its promise to America.
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