Real success sometimes is measured by the ability to make
decisions mid-project that change the project’s course. In a project
like this one, which was not a cookie cutter replica in any sense, this
was even more the case. Every single step was analyzed to ensure
everything was on track.
One important change was made to control acid gas emissions. As recommended by a University of Washington study, the
company opted for a semidry absorption scrubber system rather
than a bicarbonate injection system. The scrubber was deemed the
best method to prevent the creation of a detached plume that could
result from the interaction of ammonia, from urea injection to control NOx, and hydrochloric acid, formed by chlorine-contaminated
wood (not uncommon in the Pacific Northwest forest), after the
gases left the smokestack. This type of adjustment has helped optimize system operations and control emissions.
Positive changes were also made to the project’s debt. Completion
of construction recently allowed Seattle Steam to replace the construction loan with a New Market Tax Credit (NMTC) structured
debt. At closing, the NMTC debt raised more than $6 million in federal tax exemptions that were injected as equity into the project. This
complex refinancing was possible because of the location of the steam
service district in relation to qualified census tracts (those that showed
average income below a defined level).
But what is the result of the overall project now that commissioning is drawing to a close? The project is meeting its financial
goals without increasing costs to the customers, plus a good first
year of operation has put Seattle Steam well on track to meeting its
60 percent carbon reduction goal.
Seattle Steam’s carbon emissions are monitored through The
Climate Registry via annual audits conducted in September. Although
the past year’s certified results won’t be available until early 2011, the
results will immediately be made available to Seattle Steam’s customers,
many of whom now track their carbon annually. They will each receive
specific information about how much Seattle Steam reduced their
respective carbon footprints over the past year.
The company is committed to a reliable, consistent operating
performance that will keep emissions down, carbon footprints reduced
and customers satisfied – a good path for others to follow.
Stanley Gent, P.Eng., joined Seattle Steam Co. as
president and chief executive officer in 2004. He
previously was president of Comfort Link, a district
cooling company located in Baltimore, Md. During the
1990s, when he was employed as vice president of
engineering and development for Chicago-based Unicom
Thermal Technologies, Gent became a leader in the
development of a variety of district cooling systems. He may be reached at
Recycling Goes Full Circle
LEVERAGING THE WASTE CYCLE – TOGETHER