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West Chester Company Growing Capacity for Energy Efficiency

Ohio Environmental Council, August 13, 2013

In July, the Ohio Environmental Council joined members of the Ohio General Assembly on a tour of the Systecon manufacturing facility in West Chester, Ohio.

Systecon is an engineering and production company that specializes in manufacturing HVAC units that are shipped globally.

Systecon boasts 63 full-time employees, 54 of whom live in Southwest Ohio.

The tour was designed to inform Ohio lawmakers about combined heat and power (CHP) technology that holds huge potential in Ohio.

In fact, on account of the huge manufacturing base in Ohio, the state is 4th in the nation for the amount of electricity we could generate from CHP.

But, due to barriers in the marketplace, Ohio is 45th in the nation for actual systems installed.

The morning began with a presentation given by sales engineer, Alex Juncker, and Systecon CEO, Terry Moses. The presentation focused on CHP technology and its role in Ohio’s green economy.

“The technology itself is not a new idea,” explained Juncker, “but it has been perceived as complicated.”

Simply put, CHP systems provide both electrical and heat energy needs for factories or commercial buildings from a single energy source. Typical systems run on natural gas, but systems can also be fueled by renewable fuels like landfill gas or biogases.

Because the electricity that is generated by a CHP system is consumed at the site at which it’s generated (instead of being transmitted over miles and miles of electric lines), CHP is much more efficient than conventional electricity generation, and in some cases can actually reduce air pollution emissions at the facility where it’s installed.

Systecon CEO Terry Moses believes that now more than ever, “people are doing things to be green. That is the motivating factor more so than the economic factor.”

However, the economics of financing a project is still very important, and that’s where state policies can make a huge impact. During the presentation, OEC Legislative Affairs Associate, Trish Demeter, explained the recently enacted new incentives for such systems.

In September 2012, Ohio Governor John Kasich signed Ohio Senate Bill 315, which allowed CHP to qualify as an energy efficiency measure, meaning that it will now be eligible for rebate and incentive programs offered by electric utilities. (In photo, part of the Systecon CHP system.)

Utilities will offer such rebates in return for counting the energy savings gained by a CHP system towards their compliance with state energy efficiency standards.

“Having electric utilities at the table when these projects are being considered by a factory or commercial building owner is critical in getting the project off the ground,” Demeter explained. “Without a defined role for the utility in partnering with their customers on developing these projects, we’ll continue lose out on the huge potential we have to deploy more of these clean, efficient systems.”

In addition to its economic and environmental benefits, CHP is a highly reliable power source.

Power outages pose no threat to facilities that have CHP systems installed due to the absence of electrical lines and transformers, and because the systems can be independent of the electrical grid.

Given recent instances of extreme weather events, CHP is becoming a popular method of power supply because facilities that have CHP systems can keep the lights and heating or air conditioning on during long power outages.

The day concluded with a tour of the facilities, featuring a CHP system that Systecon has developed for a new grocery store that is under construction in Brooklyn, New York.

After Systecon engineers test the system, it will be disassembled and shipped to the installation site.

Moses believes that “Systecon leads the industry as far as technology is concerned.”

And with a little boost from smart state policies, like those enacted in Ohio Senate Bill 315, Systecon will continue to lead, and possibly install more of their systems right here in Ohio.