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Cogen Plants Maintaining power when it matters most

Cogeneration (Cogen) plants, otherwise known as Combined Heat and Power (CHP) systems, have not only become crucial to hospitals that need to continue operations even during natural disasters, but they have proven to also reduce the carbon footprint of the building and operating costs. A win-win for all involved.

Brad Bathgate, a Professional Engineer at PWI Engineering, states that every hospital has emergency generators, but that’s not enough to run the hospital for multiple days in the event of a natural disaster, such as a hurricane. His firm has designed 17 Cogen plants over the past ten years as more and more healthcare facilities near the coast are recognizing the benefits of this type of energy. 

“A Cogen plant essentially serves as an additional utility service, providing electricity and thermal energy. In the case of a natural disaster, having a Cogen plant would allow a hospital to operate long enough for procedures to be completed and people to be evacuated safely,” says Bathgate. “The primary benefit of these systems is a reduction in operating costs, which is always important to healthcare facilities, but they can also be engineered to create resiliency.” 

MMC Contractors’ New Jersey office is working with PWI Engineering on two Cogen plants for hospitals in New Jersey – Cooper University Hospital in Camden and Morristown Medical Center in Morristown. At Cooper, the hospital received a grant through the New Jersey Economic Development Authority Energy Resiliency Bank (ERB) Program for their Cogen plant. Bathgate shared that “as part of the ERB program requirements, this Cogen plant will provide 100 percent ofthe peak steam needs as well as provide significant non-electric cooling capacity and will allow the hospital to operate normally during a seven day period without delivery of fuel.” 

Not only are Cogen plants a growing trend in healthcare facilities, but many universities, such as MIT, Harvard, Yale, and Penn State, have taken advantage of the operational efficiencies these systems provide. According to Bathgate, facilities with large thermal loads all year round are ideal candidates for a Cogen plant. 

Now having been able to partner on two of these Cogen plant projects in the Northeast and hopefully more in the future, MMC Contractors takes pride in not only helping these hospitals run more efficiently, but they are now better positioned to provide care to their patients in times of crisis.