Bush tackles regulatory barriers to CHP expansion

The EPA has set in motion Bush Administration recommendations to boost the use of combined heat and power (CHP) in the US with the creation of a CHP partnership of private, state and NGO organisations across the country.

The main objective is to develop and promote the benefits of CHP projects, with the EPA providing public recognition of projects and benefits for private investors, the public and the environment. The Agency will shortly be publishing draft guidance clarifying the Clean Air act requirements for constructing CHP facilities, aimed at streamlining air quality permitting; and will be working on clarifying the liability issues involved with promoting CHP within the EPA’s brownfield programme.

This goes some way to breaking down the regulatory barriers which the US Combined Heat and Power Association (USCHPA) believes have restricted CHP expansion. The Association had also welcomed recommendations in the new Bush National Energy Policy that the Treasury should shorten the depreciation life for CHP projects or provide investment tax credits to increase CHP capacity. But, notably absent was more detail on interconnection standards and net metering provisions, which the USCHPA considers critical to the industry’s future.

EPA spokesman, Joe Bryson told edie that the Clinton Administration, like Bush, was very supportive of CHP, however, the changes have been relatively slow and incremental in coming. Clinton supported tax incentives for CHP that were not enacted

and recognized CHP’s important role in addressing climate change. To this end, several efforts were begun under Clinton that are proceeding under Bush, to remove, or at least streamline, environmental permitting barriers, specifically in the EPA programme known as New Source Review. Ongoing government-funded research into CHP is managed by the US Department of Energy.

Bryson estimated total US CHP capacity at approximately 54 Gigawatts, equivalent to 6% of total US generating capacity. The 17 founding Fortune 500 companies involved in the new EPA partnership account for around 5,800MW of CHP generating capacity. They include: Abbott Laboratories, Archer Daniels Midland, Bethlehem Steel, Caterpillar Energy Products Group, Dow Chemical, ExxonMobil, General Motors, International Paper, Real Energy, Solar Turbines, Texaco Power and Gasification International, Trigen Energy, U.S. Steel, Verizon Communications and Weyerhaeuser, the College of New Jersey in Ewing, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The Partnership also includes “endorsing” organizations: Gas Technology Institute, International District Energy Association, Midwest Application Center for CHP

for Buildings, Midwest Cogeneration Association, Northeast-Midwest Institute,

and the U.S. Combined Heat and Power Association. The New York State Energy

Research and Development Authority is also a partner.

The USCHPA has estimated that more than 50 gigawatts of combined heat and power capacity could be installed by 2010.

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