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Phoenix Contact Goes Off the Grid

Tue, 04/22/2014 - 2:58pm
Phoenix Contact

Phoenix Contact has installed a new combined cooling, heating, and power (CCHP) system that will generate enough electricity to power the company’s U.S. headquarters approximately 65 percent of the time. As part of the company’s Earth Day activities, Phoenix Contact leaders and other officials today held a wire-cutting ceremony to symbolically disconnect the facility from the electric grid.

Jack Nehlig, President of Phoenix Contact USA, stated,   “Earth Day is a great reminder we all need to make smart decisions to help our environment.  At Phoenix Contact, we realize we have a large energy footprint and have chosen to help our region and the world by making a significant investment to generate our own power in a more environmentally friendly way.”

The CCHP system is composed of five 200 kW Capstone microturbines packaged in a single container, a 300-ton exhaust-fired absorption chiller and a 5,000-BTU heat exchanger.  The turbines are driven by the thermal dynamics of the facility and can generate up to 1 megawatt of electricity.  The system can also heat and/or cool the facility, independent of external sources. As the turbines generate energy, they vent the exhaust heat byproduct through either the building’s absorption chiller or its heat exchanger to regulate the temperatures of the building’s chilled and hot water supplies. That demand will determine how much electricity the system will generate, while reducing the amount of waste Phoenix Contact produces.

Doug Ferguson, Vice President, Americas Operations Services, said, “As a clean alternative energy source, the CCHP system provides two additional key benefits: The system is expected to provide an estimated annual savings of over $300,000 per year; and this additional electricity generation source provides a redundant source of electricity, which will allow our facility to operate in the event that either PP&L or our CCHP system goes out of service.”

The CCHP project uses many Phoenix Contact products within the control cabinets, including Valueline industrial PCs, Ethernet switches, Visu+ software, I/O, relays, power supplies, surge protection and more.

"I am very pleased to see the commercial/industrial marketplace is recognizing the value that can be gained from utilizing low-cost, abundant natural gas for generating reliable onsite combined cooling, heating, and power (CCHP) with Capstone turbines," said Jeff Beiter, Managing Partner for E-Finity Distributed Generation, the exclusive Mid-Atlantic distributor for Capstone Turbine Corporation and the system supplier for the project.

The installation of the CCHP system comes near the end of a major renovation and expansion to Phoenix Contact’s U.S. headquarters, located in Lower Swatara Township, Pa. The construction project added 125,000 square feet, bringing the facility to nearly 360,000 square feet.

The U.S. headquarters includes manufacturing and logistics facilities for North and South America, as well as office space.  The project nearly doubles the manufacturing footprint in the U.S. It also added about 50,000-square-feet of office space to better accommodate the local workforce, which has grown from 414 in early 2011 to 522 today.

Representatives from E-Finity and Capstone Turbine Corp., the manufacturer of the CCHP, also took part in the wire cutting ceremony. Other participants included representatives from Gatter & Diehl, Inc., the consulting engineering firm for the construction project, and several local elected officials.

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