Nursing Home Just a Bundle of Energy
Newsday, Wednesday, July 11, 2001
by Tom McGinty - Staff Writer

Generators prove an alternative to LIPA

Three years ago, a West Babylon nursing home was like most businesses on Long Island: It got all its electricity from LIPA and paid the utility a hefty sum. But after installing its own natural gas-fired generators, the home’s annual electricity costs dropped by a third.

Yesterday, energy industry officials cited the East Neck Nursing and Rehabilitation Center as a prime example of “distributed generation,” a budding technology they say is saving businesses money and reducing demand on Long Island’s stressed energy grid.

About 70 businesses on Long Island use some form of on-site generation to augment what they buy from the Long Island Power Authority, according to KeySpan, the company that furnishes the natural gas burned by the units. David Manning, a KeySpan senior vice president, said he expects the number to climb as fears of future energy shortage rise.

“This is still pretty new,” Manning said at a news conference called by KeySpan at the nursing home yesterday. “That’s why we think it’s a phenomenal growth opportunity.”

The nursing home’s two generators produce about 120 kilowatts of power with a pair of V-8 engines modified to burn natural gas. They also capture the heat produced by the motors and use it to heat the nursing home in the winter and to heat its water year round.

The dual functions of the generators – a process known as co-generation—make them extremely efficient and cheap to operate, Manning said.

Joseph Galdo, program manager of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Distributed
Power Program, said co-generation is widely employed in Europe but only used in the United States as an afterthought.

“We’re very much in favor of co-generations,” Galdo said. “In fact, one of our goals is to double the amount of combined heat and power in the U.S.”

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