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BPA, PNGC Power Test New Technology
PNGC Power manages initial site for BPA test of first propane-powered microturbine of its size in U.S.
Kathi VanderZanden, PNGC Power, 503-288-1234
Portland, Ore. - 04/12/2002 - A demonstration of a Capstone 60 MicroTurbine, the first of its size (60 kW) to run on propane in the United States, is now underway in Oregon. PNGC Power is managing the initial field-testing for the microturbine owner, Bonneville Power Administration (BPA). The demonstration will indicate readiness of this emerging technology for use by consumers.
While this class of microturbine is typically designed to run on natural gas, propane can be an effective alternative, allowing the unit to be mobile. This is an important consideration in rural areas, which typically have no natural gas. For those off-grid already, microturbines could provide reliable cost effective power.
"BPA and PNGC Power have been working together to test distributed generation technologies over the last two years," said Dave Piper, PNGC Power CEO. "Our mutual goal with distributed generation is to bring reliable electrical service to more customers, especially those in rural areas."
According to Kevin Watkins, PNGC Power vice president of engineering, "Because our customers are primarily in rural areas, we are keenly interested in distributed generation technologies and their potential applications. We very much appreciate the opportunity to once again partner with Bonneville to test cutting edge technologies."
The microturbine began operating at the Coffin Butte Resource Project near Corvallis, Oregon, in mid-January. Electricity generated by the microturbine is being used to power a portion of the station service requirements there. PNGC Power plans to provide the manufacturer with suggestions and improvements to the unit.
The microturbine unit is about seven feet tall mounted on a trailer and comes with propane tanks. It has the same basic design as a jet aircraft engine. Like larger versions of combustion turbines, energy from the combusted fuel is converted by a rotating shaft to generate electricity. The packaging, the size, and the application are unique.
"Microturbines have a niche as a back-up power source or for improved power quality or reliability," said Mark Jackson, fuel cell and microturbine development manager for Bonneville. "Our goal is to give BPA customers experience with the machines so they will be comfortable using them if microturbines fit their needs." Using a propane-powered microturbine to generate electricity on this scale may prove to be a cost-effective, low-emission way for customers in remote locations to have high quality, reliable and environmentally preferred electricity.
"We're used to operating and maintaining machinery," said Watkins. "We have had a commercial operation at the Coffin Butte Resource Project in Corvallis, Oregon since 1995 and generate enough electricity for about 2,000 homes (2,000 MWh) annually. Coffin Butte is one of the most reliable and highest performing facilities of it's type in the country. The same staff is operating the microturbine demonstration program."
PNGC Power manages the Coffin Butte Resource Project on behalf of 12 electric utility cooperatives.
PNGC Power is a Portland-based electric power services cooperative owned by 15 Northwest electric distribution utilities. They include: Blachly-Lane Electric Cooperative, Eugene, OR; Central Electric Cooperative, Inc., Redmond, OR; Clearwater Power Company, Lewiston, ID; Consumers Power, Inc., Philomath, OR; Coos-Curry Electric Cooperative, Inc., Port Orford, OR; Douglas Electric Cooperative, Roseburg, OR; Fall River Rural Electric Cooperative, Inc., Ashton, ID; Lane Electric Cooperative, Inc., Eugene, OR; Lost River Electric Cooperative, Mackay, ID; Northern Lights, Inc., Sagle, ID; Okanogan County Electric Cooperative, Inc., Winthrop, WA; Salmon River Electric Cooperative, Inc., Challis, ID; Raft River Rural Electric Cooperative, Inc., Malta, ID; Umatilla Electric Cooperative, Hermiston, OR; and West Oregon Electric Co-operative, Inc., Vernonia, OR.
In 1996, the company became the first power cooperative in the country to receive a power marketing license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. PNGC Power creates value for its member systems by providing sophisticated power management, technical innovation and cutting edge customer services and products. More information about PNGC Power can be found at www.pngc.com.
Bonneville Power Administration, 905 N.E. 11th Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97232