Custer company hopes to offer solution to recent energy woes

Published on Fri, Feb 16, 2001
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Custer company hopes to offer solution to recent energy woes

by Meg Olson

A Custer company is poised to ride the current wave of power shortages to success after having secured a distributorship for a revolutionary new generator.

Designed by Honeywell and on the market since last April, the Parallon 75 offers dependable, low-cost energy, minimal maintenance and barely discernible emissions. John Hawkes, owner of Jera Consultors, is confident northwest companies and government agencies will pay $55,000 to $65,000 per unit for the cost saving potential and peace of mind. “We had identified a power crisis coming and started looking for power source alternatives,” he said. “This is the answer.”

According to Hawkes, the Parallon is the most technologically advanced generator on the market. It has only one moving part - the drive shaft bearing the turbine and the generator - which is supported by a patented air bearing. The bearing supports the shaft on a thin cushion of air, eliminating the need for lubrication, which translates into low maintenance costs and high efficiency.

“It runs at very high heat so combustion is very high,” said Hawkes. “Natural gas is consumed up to 99 percent so pollution from the unit is low.”

Running on natural gas, the emissions are less than 50 ppm per day, which has led to the unit being certified by the Environmental Protection Agency for use in any U.S. city. “The city of Chicago has purchased fifty units to cover peak demands,” Hawkes said.

At current natural gas prices, Hawkes said the Parallon produces 75 kilowatts of continuous output electricity for approximately eight cents per kilowatt hour. However, an optional hot water co-generation unit also uses the exhaust heat to make 99kW of hot water a day. “If you use the heat for hot water, which can be used to heat a facility, the cost of power effectively drops to four cents per kilowatt hour.”

Blaine customers pay approximately five cents per kilowatt hour, but rates are expected to increase in the fall if the Bonneville Power Administration jumps rates to maintain cash reserves. Puget Sound Energy customers pay six to seven cents.

Hawkes said the programmability of the units makes them ideal to supplement energy off a main grid during peak demand periods when prices may be higher.

“When prices go up, these go on and you save money,” he said. The units also supply a quiet, dependable source of energy for industries that can’t afford to be without power. The units can be grouped to supply up to 300 kWh for large facilities or residential areas. Most homes only use a few kilowatts per day.

Jera Consultors have only had the distributorship for the Parallon 75 for a few weeks, but Hawkes said they have already had interest from several Whatcom County businesses feeling the pinch of high power costs. They hope to meet with state officials to explore puting the units into state buildings.

“With the governor’s statement that he wants all government buildings to be power smart, this would be perfect,” he said.

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