It’s easy to want to save energy, but actually looking into what it takes to do so can be overwhelming. When looking for alternative means of electricity for your business, cogeneration is a very feasible solution to high fuel costs. The payback in gas and electric savings when providing both heat and power to your facility has typically proven to be a winning solution.
Selecting the correct contractor can also be a daunting task. Performance projects have a tendency to naturally separate the companies with less resources, making the choice somewhat easier. However, the logistics on the pre-construction end are never to be taken lightly.
New York City Code
Following New York City code for your cogeneration project can be labor intensive on the front end only because of the amount of resources the city requires to stay on top of new projects. There are also more governing bodies associated with construction in the city. The first step is to file a log letter with your utility provider, Consolidated Edison (ConEd) for example, to see if the gas service you have in the building is adequate for the additional equipment. Following approval, there may be a charge for a second meter and additional piping from the main.
There are more than a couple of permits that will need to be pulled to get the project going. These would include:
- Permits and inspections by Department of Buildings (DOB)
- Building, Mechanical, Electric
- Plumbing: Domestic Hot Water Recovery
- Permits and inspections by Utility Provider:
- Electric, Steam, Gas
- Fire Department of New York (FDNY)
- Certificate of Fitness
- Inspections by New City York Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP)
In addition to the required permits, it’s also important to note that a Certificate of Fitness will need to be obtained and SEQRA/ CEQR analysis may be required.
New York Suburban Rules and Regulations
To install cogeneration plants on your property or in your building will require a considerable amount of oversight from a number of regulating bodies. The process is worth it, and the code officials will provide you with as much help as you need. Being aware of the process to visualize all of the moving parts can be tricky at times when getting the project started. Due diligence up front is the best way to set yourself up for success.
In the surrounding counties of New York City like Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk, they may lean on the International Codes to regulate the process. The International Building Code (IBC) and the International Fuel Gas Code will spell out the exact codes and regulations to follow for general building and fire safety purposes.
Utility companies typically like to be involved with the permitting process and have their own set of guidelines that would be above and beyond International codes. These guidelines are important because the gas companies will like to know how much of their service is fueling the Cogeneration plant, hence guidelines may include installing a second meter to closely monitor performance. Electric utilities will need to know the amount of energy you’re feeding back into the grid. If you choose not to be grid tied and just to supplement the electricity in your building to offset your rates, a third party electrical contractor may still be required to conduct the inspections.
Some counties will have their own codes, which go above and beyond the IBC. Nassau County, for instance, does not and will follow the IBC and Utility requirements directly.
If you’ve selected a reciprocating engine for your new cogeneration system, you can expect most of regulating bodies to be involved. Typical codes enforced for this type of equipment lean toward the NYC Mechanical Code, Fuel Gas Code, NFPA 37. Also check with local codes, which may be more restrictive.
If you plan to house a reciprocating engine in a fire-rated enclosure, you may need to reference the separation requirements listed in Chapter 5 of the NYC Building Code. Low pressure boiler systems associated with reciprocating engine systems may require less permitting and inspections. High pressure boiler systems over 160 psig will require 24/7 coverage by a licensed NY boiler operator, and will also require an inspection by the DOB Boiler Unit after the cogeneration system installation.
Microturbines have their own code written and specified in Title 1 of The Rules of New York City: 1 RCNY §50-01 Chapter 50 Distributed Energy Resource Standards. In addition, NFPA 37, and local codes should also be referenced.
For low pressure systems producing a maximum of 500 kW, outdoor clearances will be subject to restrictions. Indoor installations will need to have a 2-hour fire rating, proper ventilation, gas detectors, and alarms. Dedicated penthouse enclosures will be subject to low-hazard occupancy regulations.
If you plan to produce more than 2000 kW of power and heat or have a unit operating at high gas pressures of 6 psig and above, a licensed operator would need to be present during all hours of operation who holds a fire department- issued Certificate of Fitness.