January 23rd, 2010
The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation in Connecticut could become a “green” island unto itself in a few years.
That is the ultimate goal of a cogeneration approach the Tribe will embrace with a $34 million project it expects to start testing this spring. Initially, it is expected to provide nearly 60% of the tribe’s electricity needs and at the same time heat and cool Foxwoods Resort Casino.
Two 10,300-horsepower jet engines will propel the system, which will convert natural gas into electricity and steam. And that will likely impact the Tribe’s electricity bill, which runs to $24 million a year.
“It should pay for itself in three years,” said Charlene Jones, a former tribal councilor and chairwoman of the tribe’s utilities authority, citing projections that depend on fluctuations in fuel prices.
The tribe first considered cogeneration a decade ago and renewed its interest several years later amid advances in the attendant technology, according to Robert Birmingham, the tribe’s planning director. The tribal council set aside funding for the project in each of its last four annual budgets.
The tribe operates a small, 75-kilowatt cogeneration system in its community center, where it produces electricity and hot water.
Bidding on the $34 million project began more than two years ago and construction began this past March.