Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission Chairman Rob Powelson cut the ribbon today on a $60 million upgrade to the power plant that runs the Center City steam loop.
The century-old facility, which provides steam heat to 300 Philadelphia customers, has converted from fuel oil to natural gas. The Inquirer has more on the upgrade:
By installing new natural gas boilers and expanding the pipeline that delivers gas to the plant, Veolia will virtually eliminate the plant’s use of high-sulfur fuel oil to produce steam for the system’s 300 customers, including some of the city’s most prominent buildings.
Natural gas costs less than fuel oil, so the bills for Veolia’s customers should decrease. And natural gas burns more cleanly than oil, so the plant will emit 93 percent less sulfur dioxide, 20 percent less nitrogen oxide, and 70,000 fewer metric tons of greenhouse gases a year.
Veolia is marketing the improvements to property owners who face increasing pressure to be more environmentally conscious. Under a new city law, large commercial buildings must report their energy consumption to government, which will “benchmark” properties for efficiency. Veolia customers will be able to take credit for a share of the efficiency improvements.