A freak October snowstorm that left more than three million customers in the Northeast in the dark—many of whom may not see power restored for several days—has some questioning how we can better prepare for future natural disasters. As this record-setting storm reminded us, we can expect increases in the number and severity of extreme weather events, thanks to climate change—making preparedness ever more essential going forward.
Experts at Pace Law School’s Energy & Climate Center are available to speak to the media about keeping power running to critical sites—such as hospitals, centers of refuge, data centers, wastewater treatment plants, and chemical facilities—when the grid is impaired in the wake of a natural disaster.
One measure that’s gaining ground recently is on-site Combined Heat and Power (CHP) generators at critical infrastructure sites. They can be configured to run independent of the electrical grid, providing heating, cooling and power to critical facilities during and after an emergency situation. Unlike diesel-based emergency back-up generators, they are used every day, so their reliability in an emergency is assured. CHP generators typically are fueled by natural gas piped in underground, which is resilient to many types of disasters that lead to loss of power.
Pace Law School’s Energy & Climate Center, which is the U.S. Department of Energy’s Northeast Clean Energy Application Center, is working on several projects related to CHP and emergency preparedness. Earlier this year, they addressed Region II of the New York State Emergency Management Office about the role CHP can play in the aftermath of a disaster. A copy of the presentation is available upon request.
The New York State Office of Emergency Management is partnering with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and its technical contractors, Energetics Incorporated, ICF International, and Pace Energy and Climate Center, to provide technical assistance and information on combined heat and power (CHP)/cogeneration for emergency managers in New York State.
New York State is a leader in CHP. There are currently 289 critical infrastructure sites in the state with CHP systems, including 35 hospitals and healthcare facilities, 43 nursing homes, and 110 sites at colleges, universities, schools and other locations that are often used as places of refuge.
More information on disaster preparedness, business continuity and community sustainability in New York State is available here.
Thomas Bourgeois, deputy director of the Pace Energy & Climate Center, is available to speak to the media.
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Pace Law School