Cogeneration: How to Commission a CHP Plant
Despite having to build a new facility for the CHP system, the construction process was not as difficult as commissioning the system, Romatzick says.
"With the students on campus and with the campus in full operation, especially the commissioning part of it (was difficult)," he says. "We had to run tests for the utility companies to make sure everything worked and all the safety features were in place, so we did black out the university a few times. It was about a one-month process to rein in all the loose ends."
The fact the university was occupied also posed challenges for the project team tying the CHP system into the existing central plant.
"It was a scheduling challenge," Romatzick says. "We had to schedule it around events and occupancies to be able to cut into our chilled-water system and our existing high-temperature system because we had to shut down entire sections of the university to do it."
Although commissioning was a challenge, the process did provide technicians with an opportunity to learn the intricacies of the CHP system. The university has a 100 percent service contract with the turbine manufacturer, but in-house staff is responsible for daily inspections on a system that is "smarter than we are," as Romatzick quips.
"The best learning tool was paying attention during commissioning, but we did have (the turbine manufacturer) spend an entire week here doing intensive classroom training on normal procedures and getting the staff to understand how it operates, the different components, and where components are located."