This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

May 17, 2011

Texas Medical Center Completes New Energy Efficiency Project

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu issued the following statement on today's dedication ceremony celebrating the completion of a new industrial energy efficiency project at the Texas Medical Center in Houston, Texas, that is expected to save approximately $200 million in energy costs over the next 15 years. The combined heat and power plant at the heart of the project, which was funded in part with $10 million under the 2009 stimulus bill—the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act—will generate both electricity and heat for a variety of uses at the Medical Center. In addition to generating significant cost savings for the facility, the project is expected to dramatically reduce carbon pollution, equivalent to removing more than 50,000 cars from the road annually.

"Investments in energy efficiency like the combined heat and power plant at the Texas Medical Center are helping to create new jobs, expand U.S. manufacturing and strengthen American competitiveness globally," said Secretary Chu. "By reducing the energy needed to power multiple facilities, this project is saving millions of dollars and reducing carbon pollution, while improving the power reliability of one of the country's top medical campuses."


At today's dedication ceremony, DOE officials joined U.S. Representative Al Green as well as senior executives from the Thermal Energy Corporation (TECO) and the Texas Medical Center (TMC) to celebrate completion of the ambitious district energy system project and tour the newly expanded central plant.

The TMC dedication ceremony marked the completion of the $377 million expansion at TECO's Central Plant, which features a new 48 megawatt combined heat and power system. TECO provides steam and chilled water to the 18 industry-leading medical institutions comprising the Texas Medical Center campus—the largest medical center in the world. The plant's electricity is used to power boilers, chillers and other equipment. Surplus electricity generated by the plant can be sold back to the grid.

Supported by $10 million in DOE funding from the Recovery Act, the efficiency overhaul implemented by TECO supported more than 1,000 direct and indirect jobs in manufacturing, engineering, and construction, with approximately 400 of those being jobs directly associated with construction of the CHP plant. The CHP plant now supports the largest district chilled-water system in the country.

CHP power plants generate both the heat and electricity needed for industrial processes onsite, instead of using electricity from the grid, and can be nearly twice as efficient as conventional heat and power production. By making use of heat produced during power generation on-site, CHP technologies avoid losses from the generation and transmission of energy produced off-site. In contrast with the traditional method of producing separate heat and power, which has a typical combined efficiency of 45%, the TECO CHP system can operate at efficiency levels approaching 80%. CHP plants are also able to improve the security and reliability of the electricity system by reducing or eliminating dependence on regional electric grids.

CHP technology is an important area of focus for DOE's Industrial Technologies Program (ITP). ITP works to advance solutions for some of the nation's top energy challenges through a combination of transformative research and development of new manufacturing technologies and materials, as well as the provision of targeted education and technical assistance in the industrial sector. For more information on district energy systems and CHP technology, visit the Industrial Distributed Energy website.