Texas Emergency Management ONLINE 2015 Vol. 62 No. 2


CHP System

Texas A&M’s CHP system is designed to remain fully functional during a power outage, ensuring that critical operations can continue without interruption. The University has provided emergency housing for people endangered or displaced by storms including Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

A Texas law passed in 2013 (HB 1864) requires all critical facilities to evaluate installing a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) or cogeneration system before any new construction or major renovation, as a way to boost resiliency during major storms or other grid outages. In support of this requirement, technical and financial CHP screenings are being offered at no cost here in Texas by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (U.S. DOE’s) Southwest CHP Technical Assistance Partnership (CHP TAP), with support from South-central Partnership for Energy Efficiency as a Resource (SPEER).

CHP strengthens reliability and resiliency by generating necessary back up power during blackouts caused by storms or other adverse events, and continues to generate electricity and thermal energy efficiently the rest of the year as well. Properly designed CHP systems can provide power, hot water, space heating, and cooling more reliably, efficiently, sustainably, and at lower costs than traditional supply systems, and in addition can be a good compliment to intermittent renewables such as photovoltaics.

When designed to operate either alongside or independent from the grid, CHP systems meet specific reliability needs and address risk profiles required by different facility types, and in many cases can be used in place of diesel back-up generators.

AOI example of Hurricane IKE moving toward the Gulf coast

CHP provides power during grid outages caused by storms or other adverse events, and continues to generate electricity and thermal energy efficiently the rest of the year as well.

Key Emergency Management Applications for CHP:

  • Hospitals and Healthcare Centers
  • Water / Wastewater Treatment Plants
  • Police, Fire, and Public Safety
  • Centers of Refuge (Often Schools Or Universities)
  • Military/National Security
  • Food Distribution Facilities
  • Telecommunication and Data Centers
  • Correctional Facilities

Comparison to Diesel Backup Generators
CHP not only provides electricity and thermal energy during power outages, but also provides continuous benefits to host facilities year-round. CHP can provide daily operating cost savings, offsetting the capital costs of traditional backup generators. A comparison of each system is provided in the table below:

CHP versus Backup Generators


Backup Generators

System Performance

  • Designed and maintained to run continuously
  • Improved performance reliability
  • Requires regular maintenance to ensure continued viability
  • Typically only used during emergencies


  • Saves money on energy bills
  • Incur costs

Fuel Supply

  • Natural gas infrastructure typically not impacted by severe weather
  • Limited by on-site storage

Energy Produced

  • Electricity
  • Thermal (heating, cooling, hot/chilled water, steam)
  • Electricity only

Transition from Grid Power

  • May be configured for “flicker-free” transfer from grid connection to “island mode”
  • Lag time may impact critical system performance


  • Typically natural gas fueled, with lower emissions than diesel
  • Can run continuously year-round
  • High energy efficiency and sustainability 
  • Commonly diesel-fueled, with higher emissions than natural gas
  • Non-emergency run-time-hours limited by emissions

Is CHP Right for Your Facility?
CHP can provide enormous benefits to large energy users, utilities, communities, and other stakeholders, but it is not the right fit for every application.

Our CHP experts can help you determine if CHP is worth a closer look for your facility, both technically and financially. The first step is talking through a series of screening questions, combined with a first-cut qualification assessment of the economic and technical viability of CHP at your site, using basic site information. We help you evaluate if energy costs, thermal loads, site operating hours, and other key site characteristics show potential for a good, cost-effective CHP project. If the screening and site qualification suggests good CHP potential and you are interested in pursuing the CHP opportunity, we can provide support for a more detailed analysis.

Development process

Your Facility is a Good Candidate for CHP if…

CHP System
  • You are concerned about power reliability, your facility operates for more than 3,000 hours/year, and the facility has thermal loads throughout the year (including steam, hot water, chilled water, hot air, etc.).
  • Your facility has an existing central plant, and you expect to replace, upgrade, or retrofit central plant equipment within the next three to five years.
  • You anticipate a facility expansion or new construction project within the next three to five years.

U.S. DOE Southwest CHP TAP Contact for Texas:
Julie A. Myhre, P.E.
CHP Program Manager
(512) 279-0764

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