District Energy | Spring/Summer 2019 17 © 2019 International District Energy Association. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
even if the electricity grid goes down. (It
was renamed the Paul G. Bell Jr. Energy
Plant in 2014.)
The project included an 8. 8 million-gal chilled-water storage tank that further
enhances reliability. It can be brought
into service quickly and only uses about
10 percent of the equivalent power it
would take to operate a chiller.
Such undertakings don’t happen overnight, and they require significant capital
and related approvals. TECO is governed by
a board of directors comprising nine members representing its major customers. The
CHP and storage tank projects (and the full
master plan) were fully supported by the
board, whose members understood the
importance of protecting TECO and their
own institutions in the face of disaster.
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center – TECO’s largest customer – has a member on TECO’s board.
MD Anderson experienced 5 ft of floodwater in its own buildings during Tropical
Storm Allison and has since made numerous improvements to prevent future storm
damage. It is grateful TECO stays ahead of
the curve when it comes to preparing for
“We knew we could depend on TECO
during Hurricane Harvey,” says Spencer
Moore, MD Anderson’s vice president and
chief facilities officer of Facilities Management. “We were never without chilled
water for air conditioning. It’s a critical part
of our infrastructure and maintaining quality patient care.” MD Anderson is ranked
No. 1 for cancer care by U.S. News & World
Report's 2018 “Best Hospitals” survey.
PLANNING FOR THE WORST
When it comes to reliability and
resilience, preparation is critical: Once an
emergency hits, it’s too late to prepare.
From equipment design to precise installation to proper maintenance, TECO designs
optimal system redundancy into all facets
of its operations. The chilled-water distribution systems from TECO’s Central Plant
and South Main Plant have been interconnected since 2003, allowing chilled water
to flow to customers from either plant if
one happens to be compromised. This is in
addition to the looped distribution system
design that allows customers to be served
from more than one direction.
WHEN IT COMES TO RELIABILITY AND
RESILIENCE, PREPARATION IS CRITICAL:
ONCE AN EMERGENCY HITS, IT’S TOO LATE
TECO regularly and thoroughly tests
and commissions each piece of plant
equipment to ensure it works exactly
as specified under trying conditions. It
also examines all manhole seals within
its plants, verifying they can still remain
watertight under 15 ft of water.
The company’s preventive mainte-
nance program lists every piece of equip-
ment at both plants and details mainte-
nance protocols, keeping hundreds of
parts in inventory for quick repair. Since
even a loose wire, a missing bolt or an
improperly installed gasket could lead to
an operational glitch, attention to detail
is key. No piece of equipment, no matter
how small, can be overlooked.
All plant operators also participate in
TECO’s Operator Training and Certification
Program, which includes a special unit on
flood protection procedures.
TECO’s comprehensive emergency
preparedness plan addresses both natural and manmade disasters. The company
conducts regular monthly, quarterly and
annual training and emergency drills with
employees and contracts with a nationally recognized weather service to provide detailed forecasts for the area. It also
participates in special preparedness drills
in coordination with the Texas Medical
Center, the state of Texas, Harris County
and the city of Houston.
The emergency preparedness plan
details the size, composition and care
of TECO’s ride-out team – the group of
employees selected to stay on-site at
the plant during emergencies to ensure
continuity of service. TECO is committed
to sheltering 35 employees in place for
seven days, which means the company
must prepare for their care.
The plan includes recipes and shopping lists for healthy meals and procedures to ensure that the proper plant and
personal protection equipment, nonperishable food, and bedding and hygiene
items are on-site as needed. A just-in-time shopping plan is ready for ordering
RIDING OUT THE STORM
Although planning for emergencies
is key, flawless implementation is critical. With Hurricane Harvey approaching, TECO made the call Aug. 23 to put
its preparedness plan into action, asking
all ride-out team members to report to
work for an extended stay starting Aug.
25. This dedicated group of employees
would spend the next 132 hours – 5-1/2
days – working nonstop to keep vital services running.
When Harvey hit Aug. 27, TECO was
ready. The on-site operators maintained
standard 12-hour shifts, and maintenance
and distribution crews worked around the
clock as needed. Support staff made sure
fresh food was delivered before the storm
and stayed on-site to cook three nutritious meals a day.
TECO first installed a floodwall around its plant site in 2003, extending it in 2011. It proved to be
essential during Harvey, as some plant flooding would have occurred had it not been in place.
Courtesy TECO. Photo Paul Howell.