December 17, 2009

Gillibrand Introduces Gas Turbine Efficiency Legislation

Schenectady-Based GE Estimates Program Could Create Thousands Of Jobs Industry-Wide In Engineering, Construction, And Retrofits For Existing Gas

Washington, DC - U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today introduced legislation that would improve the efficiency of natural gas turbines used in electric power generation systems, and lead to significant savings for consumers. The Gas Turbine Efficiency Act would create a research and development and technology demonstration grant program through the Department of Energy to help companies study ways to implement better technology and ramp up efficiency. Congressman Paul Tonko introduced similar legislation in the House of Representatives.

"The technology developed under this legislation would reduce carbon dioxide emissions, create thousands of good-paying engineering, construction and manufacturing jobs right here at home, lower energy costs, and spur economic activity across the country," said Senator Gillibrand. "The U.S. has been a world leader in developing gas turbine technology, and this legislation would create a public-private partnership to help the U.S. preserve its position and strengthen its economy."

"I applaud Senator Gillibrand for recognizing the critical importance of this bill. Energy efficiency should be our fuel of choice - which we should drill and mine like we currently drill for oil and mine coal. Not only will the efficiencies created by this program reduce our fuel consumption, save more than a billion dollars per year in fuel costs, and dramatically reduce the production of greenhouse gases, it will also create clean energy jobs and enhance our energy security," Congressman Tonko said.

"Natural gas is one of the cleanest fossil fuels and a cost effective source of power generation.  Natural gas fired turbines would play a critical part in a low-carbon future for the country, particularly because their high operating flexibility can accommodate the variability of renewable energy. This legislation could lead to significant increases in the efficiency of current and future gas-fired plants -- saving billions of dollars in fuel costs and reducing significant amounts of CO2 and other emissions.  GE commends Sen. Gillibrand for her leadership in moving this important bill forward," said John Reinker, General Manager, Heavy Duty Gas Turbine and Combined Cycle Products for GE Energy.

The Gas Turbine Efficiency Act would create a four-year R&D and technology demonstration program targeted at increasing the efficiency of combined cycle gas turbines used by utilities to 65 percent from the current average of 60 percent. A one percentage point improvement applied to gas turbines across the country would save billions in fuel costs each year and reduce the amount of C02 gas produced by millions of tons annually. The bill has also been expanded to improve the efficiency of simple-cycle gas turbines, which are used in many smaller-scale industrial applications. The program would run from 2011-2014.

To assure that the benefit of U.S. taxpayer dollars invested in this program are realized in the United States, the Department of Energy would be directed to consider the creation/retention of U.S. jobs and the promotion of U.S. technology leadership in selecting program participants.

The legislation is endorsed by the Gas Turbine Association.