I talk a lot about micro-grids on The Power Line. To a lot of people in WV, this may seem like a totally foreign concept. But it is alive and well in many parts of the US. I have also written a lot about combined heat and power (CHP) that makes full use of heat from industrial processes or heating systems to generate electricity. Again, CHP is foreign to WV, because our regulated system allows our two Ohio power companies to prevent any sellers of wholesale power from selling power in WV.
Over at Grounded, there is a link to a great story about the CHP micro-grid at Co-op City that performed beautifully during the recent storms in the NY area. Co-op City has never lost power because they have a combined cycle 40 megawatt gas turbine generator that also provides all the heat and hot water to the complex. When Con Ed’s system went down, Co-op City’s equipment isolated Co-op City and continued operating as if nothing had happened.
This kind of micro-grid could be scaled down to almost any town or city in WV. In Europe, particularly in Denmark, there have been regulations in place for almost 30 years that require the recycling of all industrial process heat.
This ain’t rocket science. We just need the right laws and PSC regulations in place to allow private businesses to move in and develop this cheap and reliable resource.
The most important change, that can happen at the 2013 WV legislative session, is for the Legislature to pass a bill to break the grip that our Ohio power monopolies have to force them to buy power from WV owned and operated businesses. Power companies would be required to buy electricity from generators that meet certain requirements using what are called “standard offer contracts.” Standard offer contract systems are in place in states all across the US. Let’s do it here in WV so we can start building a reliable, low cost, efficient electrical system in our state, based on the ingenuity of West Virginians, not Ohio monopolies.