Tuesday, July 29, 2014Register

Beginning September 1, 2009, all government entities must comply with the law by following these three steps:

  1. Identify which government owned buildings and facilities are critical in an emergency situation.
  2. Prior to constructing or making extensive renovations to a critical governmental facility, the entity in control of the facility must obtain a feasibility study to consider the technical opportunities and economic value of implementing CHP.
  3. When the expected energy savings of the CHP system exceed the expected costs of purchasing, operating, and maintaining the system over a 20-year period, equipping the facility with a combined heating and power system is preferred to promote energy security.

Where Can I Find the Bill Language?

HB 1831 (Page 25)

HB 4409 (Page 4-5)

What is CHP?

Combined heat and power (CHP) is a type of distributed generation. With CHP, small generators are located at a building or facility where they are operated 24 hours a day to provide the primary source of both electricity and thermal energy. CHP systems use well established and cost effective technologies. Typically, they use secure natural gas supplied by underground pipelines, so they provide secure, reliable power during an emergency when grid power is down.

To meet the requirements of the law, CHP systems must be able to provide all of the electricity needed for the facility’s critical emergency operations for at least 14 days and at an overall efficiency exceeding 60 percent. For emergencies where the electricity grid is down for days or weeks, CHP systems are much more reliable than conventional diesel backup generators. In addition, CHP systems offer very low to zero emissions with attractive economic payback period.

What are Common CHP Technologies?

CHP systems employ conventional power generating equipment such as reciprocating internal combustion engines, combustion turbines, microturbines, and fuel cells. In addition, CHP systems include a heat recovery device to generate steam or chilled water, and may often include a thermal energy storage system. CHP systems and equipment are well-known and readily available.

How Does CHP Promote Energy Security?

The high pressure pipeline system that supplies natural gas throughout Texas has provided highly reliable service throughout recent hurricanes including Ike and Rita. Underground natural gas pipelines provide a secure source of energy to on-site CHP systems, which can then deliver electricity, steam, and chilled water securely throughout the facility. CHP systems must be designed for operation independent of the utility grid to achieve maximum energy security benefits

What Is a Critical Building or Facility?

To determine whether a government building or facility is critical, it must meet the following criteria:

  • be owned by the state or a political subdivision of the state
  • be expected to continue serving a critical public health or safety function throughout a natural disaster or other emergency situation, even when a widespread power outage may exist for days or weeks
  • be continuously occupied and maintain operations for at least 6,000 hours each year, and
  • have a peak electricity demand exceeding 500 kilowatts

Examples of government buildings and facilities that may meet the ‘critical’ definition include hospitals, nursing homes, command and control centers, shelters, prisons and jails, police and fire stations, communications and data centers, water or wastewater facilities,  research facilities, food preparation or food storage facilities, hazardous waste storage facilities, and similar operations.

What is a Feasibility Study?

A feasibility study provides a technical and economic evaluation of CHP for a particular building or facility. Feasibility studies are typically undertaken in three levels of comprehensiveness, where each level provides greater detail and better accuracy in the project analysis and evaluation.

Level 1 studies are quick way to determine if your facility is a candidate for CHP. These quick studies often use rudimentary spreadsheet analysis to establish energy and cash flows using average monthly billing data. Level 1 studies provide a simple payback that can be used to establish project viability at the building or facility.

Level 2 studies are more in-depth studies often using sophisticated software that analyzes building energy requirements on an hour-by-hour basis. The software uses specific CHP system equipment and configurations, TMY weather data for the site location, and anticipated facility operating hours and occupancy. Level 2 studies result in detailed energy flows and project pro forma that form the basis of a “Go/No Go” decision regarding investments in preliminary development.

Level 3 studies provide a detailed analysis of the CHP project identifying specific equipment, performance, and cost. The analysis is based on detailed site engineering and results in specific engineering drawings addressing system location, electrical system and interconnection, steam and chilled water system tie-ins, permitting requirements, and other site needs. System cost estimates are based upon actual detailed labor and materials analysis, as well as vendor quotations. Level 3 studies provide sufficient technical and financial details to seek project financing.

How Can I Get a Feasibility Study for My Building?

You can obtain a feasibility study from a number of architectural and engineering firms that have a background in CHP development. In addition, the Gulf Coast Clean Energy Application Center provides free or low cost Level 1 and Level 2 studies for those working to comply with HB 1831 and HB 4409.

Do CHP Systems Produce Environmental Benefits?

Yes. CHP systems are highly energy efficient and use clean burning natural gas. They reduce energy waste and the pollution that come with it. Typical CHP installations reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50-75%. Emissions of ozone causing nitrogen oxides (NOx) are reduced by 60-80%. Emissions of sulfur oxide (SOx) are reduced by 99%, while mercury emissions are reduced by 100%. Additionally, unlike big power plants that use millions and millions of gallons of water, CHP systems use little to no water.

Does CHP Promote Energy Efficient?

Yes. CHP systems are much more efficient than conventional separate heat and power. Separate heat and power, which involves sourcing electricity from the local electric utility and gas for the on-site boiler from the local gas distribution utility, is the most common approach used for building energy supply today. For a typical building, conventional separate heat and power has an overall energy efficiency of around 50%. However, using an on-site generator in a combined heat and power configuration, the overall energy efficiency is typically 60-80% or even higher. The higher efficiency may translate into lower costs for energy and reduced emissions of pollutants to the environment.

What Buildings and Facilities are a Good Fit For CHP?

The best candidates for CHP are those with continuous 24/7 operations and where high reliability is a must. Facilities that have coincident electrical and thermal demands and low seasonal variability can see even greater value in CHP. A wide variety of building and facilities meet these conditions and make good candidates for CHP including hotels, prisons, airports, hospitals, universities, scientific research facilities, data centers, police and fire stations, wastewater treatment facilities, refrigerated warehouses, emergency management and response facilities, and sanctuary locations. To evaluate just how good a fit CHP will be in a specific building or facility, a feasibility study must be performed. 

Have CHP Systems Been Implemented in Texas Already?

Yes. Texas has about 20,000 MW of CHP, largely in industrial facilities. That’s about 20% of the state’s entire electricity demand. A number of CHP projects have been implemented in critical buildings and facilities, including the Dell Children’s Hospital in Austin and Methodist Hospital in Houston. 

What Assistance is Available?

The Gulf Coast Clean Energy Center offers technical information and assistance to help facility managers, engineering firms, and architects comply with the requirements of HB1831 and HB4409. Services include free or low cost CHP feasibility studies, project support services, and connections to additional service providers. CHP projects may be eligible for funding through LoanSTAR, the state’s low interest revolving loan program. Contact SECO for information about LoanSTAR. Additional technical assistance is available from the U.S. Department of Energy, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s CHP Partnership.

Who Must Comply?

The provisions in this bill relating to CHP apply to all state agencies and all political subdivisions of the state including cities, counties, school districts, institutes of higher education, and municipal utility districts. All government entities must comply with the law.

H.B. 1831 & H.B. 4408
Energy Security in Critical Texas Gov’t Infrastructure

GC CHP's webinar on HB 1831/4408 provide detailed information regarding the requirements of the law and steps needed to be in compliance. The webinar is intended for government officials working with critical infrastructure facilities, engineering firms, architects, and attorneys representing government clients.


YouTube video



CHP Requirement in HB1831 & HB4409

House Bills 1831 and 4409 passed by the 81st Texas Legislature create a number of new requirements that promote disaster preparedness and emergency management. One provision common to both laws is a requirement for all government entities to formally consider the feasibility of implementing combined heat and power (CHP) technology prior to new construction or major renovation of critical buildings and facilities.

Download: SECO flyer

Gulf Coast CHP Program

4800 Research Forest Drive
The Woodlands, TX 77381

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