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Houston-based TECO Wins U.S. EPA's ENERGY STAR CHP Award

June 29, 2015

Thermal Energy Corp. recognized for saving energy, reducing emissions

“Our CHP district system on the Texas Medical Center campus proves that it is possible to reliably cool and heat customer buildings while saving energy and being environmentally and fiscally responsible. It’s hard to argue with that proposition.” – Stephen K. Swinson, PE, president and CEO, TECO

BOSTON – Thermal Energy Corp. (TECO), a Texas Medical Center institution, stepped into the winner’s circle today as it received the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2015 ENERGY STAR CHP Award at the International District Energy Association’s annual conference in Boston. TECO was one of just three organizations recognized nationwide.

EPA’s CHP Partnership lauded TECO’s 48-megawatt natural gas-fired combined heat and power (CHP) system, which began operation in 2011. The ENERGY STAR CHP Award recognizes organizations that use CHP systems to improve electric generation efficiency and reduce emissions. In its simplest form, combined heat and power is the ultimate form of energy efficiency: For the same amount of fuel input you get twice the output, both electricity and heat. 

TECO's Steve Swinson Reflects on Energy Star CHP Award from TECOvideo on Vimeo.

As a result, TECO’s CHP system uses approximately 30 percent less fuel than grid-supplied electricity and conventional steam production to cool and heat 19.3 million sq ft of space on the Texas Medical Center campus. It also avoids emitting an estimated 32,700 tons of carbon dioxide annually, equal to the emissions produced while generating electricity for more than 4,000 homes. 

“Receiving an ENERGY STAR CHP Award is a bit like being inducted into a hall of fame,” says Robert P. Thornton, IDEA’s president and CEO. “This is the first year that TECO’s CHP system was eligible for the competition, and it won the award the first time out. That’s impressive. What’s even more impressive is TECO’s commitment to share what it has learned. TECO is a longtime member of our association and is always willing to step up to the plate and help others benefit from its success.”

TECO’s President and CEO Steve Swinson, PE, reflects on what has made TECO’s achievements possible: “We’re incredibly honored to receive the ENERGY STAR CHP Award. So many people and organizations have made it happen, such as our board of directors, employees, GE’s Distributed Power business and Burns & McDonnell. I could go on. But our customers are our inspiration and driving force. They are dedicated to top-quality, mission-critical healthcare, research and education on the TMC campus. And they deserve top-quality cooling and heating service supported by TECO’s ability to generate reliable power. Our CHP district energy system proves that it is possible to maintain reliability while saving energy and being environmentally and fiscally responsible. It’s hard to argue with that proposition.”

TECO's natural gas-fired CHP plant uses a GE LM6000-PD SPRINT gas turbine  – assembled right in Houston at GE’s global packaging facility – to produce 48 MW of electricity. The electricity and waste heat from the generation process help produce steam and chilled water that are piped underground through TECO’s district cooling and heating network to more than 19 million square feet of customer buildings. TECO can generate enough electricity to power its own chillers and operate the plant even during grid interruptions. It can also export electricity to the grid during peak demand periods, supporting a sometimes-strained electricity supply. 

About TECO. Houston-based Thermal Energy Corp. has provided reliable, cost-effective and energy-efficient cooling and heating to institutions in the Texas Medical Center (@TXMedCenter) since 1969. TECO’s customers don’t need chillers or boilers in their buildings. Instead, TECO employs district energy and CHP technology to produce chilled water and steam, which it pipes underground to customers for air-conditioning, space heating, dehumidification, sterilization, kitchen and laundry processes, and domestic hot water use.

About EPA’s CHP Partnership. EPA seeks to reduce the environmental impact of electric power generation by promoting the use of combined heat and power. Its voluntary CHP Partnership program works closely with energy users; the CHP industry; state, local, and tribal governments; clean air officials; and other clean energy stakeholders to facilitate the development of new projects. It offers basic information about CHP and its benefits, technical tools and resources, information about state and federal CHP policies and incentives, the ENERGY STAR CHP Award program, and CHP news and webinars. 

About IDEA. The International District Energy Association is a nonprofit industry association founded in the United States in 1909. Today IDEA (@districtenergy) has 1,700 members in 25 countries. Members own, operate or provide technology and services to district energy and combined heat and power systems that supply steam, hot water, chilled water and energy services to multiple buildings in cities, communities, campuses, airports, military bases, industry and healthcare facilities.

About GE Distributed Power. GE Power & Water’s Distributed Power business (@GE_PowerWater) is a leading provider of power equipment, engines and services focused on power generation at or near the point of use. Distributed Power’s product portfolio includes highly efficient industrial reciprocating engines and aeroderivative gas turbines that generate 100 kW to 100 MW of power for numerous industries globally. In addition, Distributed Power offers life-cycle services and support for more than 39,000 distributed power products worldwide to help customers meet their business challenges – anywhere and anytime. Headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, the business employs about 5,000 people around the world.



STEVE SWINSON, Thermal Energy Corp. 
(713) 791-6765

office (202) 564-7776, mobile (202) 573-1259

ROB THORNTON, International District Energy Association
mobile (508) 254-7369

TOM MILLAS, GE Power & Water
(513) 275-1792

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