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Energy sector, hospitals working together on projects

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It's been a busy time for the energy sector and hospitals: Public Service Electric & Gas and Trinitas Regional Medical Center announced the completion of more than $3.7 million worth of energy-efficiency upgrades to the Elizabeth hospital. And Bayonne Medical Center got approval from the state Board of Public Utilities for $950,000 in rebates for a project allowing the hospital to generate much of its hot water, cooling and electricity.

The Trinitas project is part of PSE&G's $129 million Hospital Efficiency Program, which is helping 29 hospitals manage energy consumption, while the Bayonne project will enable the hospital to operate independently of the grid during major outages, according to the BPU, which said Bayonne will soon begin building a $3.5 million combined heat-and-power project that is expected to yield $490,313 in saving in the first year.

The upgrades are expected to save Trinitas about $7.8 million over the 20-year lifespan of the equipment. Improvements include updated heating and water-cooling systems, as well as new lighting and energy management technology.

"Hospitals tend to anchor communities, and they are a vital resource for the residents they serve," said Joe Forline, vice president of customer solutions for PSE&G, in prepared remarks. "Our Hospital Efficiency Program is helping these institutions save money on their utility bills, which frees up resources that they can better use for their core health care mission."

"Our long-term commitment to cost saving measures has enabled us to run our facility with greater efficiency," said Trinitas CEO Gary Horan in a statement. "As a partner in the vision of PSE&G, we foresee opportunities for Trinitas to continue our proactive approach to conscientious energy usage and management."

Under the Hospital Efficiency Program, PSE&G provides an investment-grade audit at no cost to the hospital, then proposes various cost-effective energy conservation measures that will make substantial improvements in the hospital's efficient use of energy with a payback period of less than 15 years. The program reduces the financial burden on the hospital by providing up-front funding for the total cost of a project. The hospital then pays back a portion of the total project cost after the project is complete through its PSE&G bill at zero percent interest over 36 months.

According to the BPU, New Jersey now has 3,000 megawatts of combined heat and power at more than 200 facilities statewide. Gov. Chris Christie's energy master plan recommends 1,500 of CHP be developed by 2020.

Beth Fitzgerald

Beth Fitzgerald

Beth Fitzgerald reports on health care, small business and higher education. She joined NJBIZ in 2008 after a 34-year career at the Star-Ledger and has been reporting on business in New Jersey since 1978. Her email is beth@njbiz.com and she is @bethfitzgerald8 on Twitter.

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