LANCASTER, Penn. — Penn Medicine’s Lancaster General Health invested in a $28 million “Energy Center of the Future” for the Lancaster General Hospital (LGH) in 2017 — a state-of-the-art natural gas-powered, tri-generation energy center to improve system reliability and increase energy efficiencies. The upgrades will make 2018 its most energy efficient calendar year yet.
The new energy center was launched in spring 2017 and is located in a two-story addition built on top of LGH’s previous power plant. The intentions of the new energy center are multiple, with threefold goals of protecting LGH’s patients, increasing system reliability and lowering overall operational costs of the facility. The 6.6-megawatt power plant will save about $2 million a year for LGH while producing only about half of the emissions that stemmed from making PPL’s power, according to a recent article from Lancaster Online.
The combined heat and power plant (CHP) comprised of a 3.5-megawatt combustion turbine and heat recovery boiler is found at the heart of the energy center. The CHP is generally referred to as a “cogeneration plant” that provides electricity and heating. The addition of a steam-driven turbine chiller to the CHP also gives the energy center cooling capabilities, which gives LGH a trigeneration system.
While modern electricity reliability is at an all-time high, LGH’s tolerance for failure was “literally zero” before the installation of the new energy center, according to Troy Hafer, project manager for the new energy center from the Lancaster-based Benchmark Construction in an LGH web update on the project. While the possibility of power failures exists in all facilities in the U.S. at any given moment, the impact of this sort of occurrence during a surgical operation or other critical patient care scenarios could be more severe. With this in mind, the need for a more reliable backup system became a priority for LGH.
Thanks to the new energy center, responsibility for powering the hospital now goes to a new pair of two-megawatt backup generators, fueled by an enormous 50,000-gallon tank of ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel. In conjunction with two existing 2.1 megawatt generators, power would be restored to the hospital in the case of a power failure, and the hospital could be powered for up to four full days with these backup systems in place.