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Reader Comments

Issue 4 and Volume 108.

I am as much in favor of distributed generation as anyone, but also am quick to realize that it is not a panacea and needs to be fit for purpose. In your article, Landfill Fills Illinois School’s Heat and Power Needs (Power Engineering, February 2004, p.70), PE is extremely bullish about this project, but if one reads down to the end, it appears that it has a simple payout of 19 years from total cost and annual savings. Quite frankly, that is an absolutely awful investment. Even ignoring the 1/2 mill from the Illinois RERP, 14 years is a miserable payback. It appears to me that either there is something missing in the article or someone sold this poor community a pig in a poke, which is hardly a good advertisement for distributed generation. I expected a more commercial approach from PE.
David C. Griffith, Commercialization Manager,Technology Solutions, ConocoPhillips

Editor’s Note:

PE reports on many projects and technologies that may not meet all parties’ criteria for economic viability. Payback numbers speak for themselves and most readers understand their implications for projects under consideration. Some customers accept certain shortcomings in exchange for perceived external benefits to their own specific circumstances or to society in general. This is often the case with renewables and certain distributed generation projects.

Thank you for a very interesting and informative article on middle distillates and related storage degradation (Power Engineering, March 2004, pp. 46-48). Re-polymerization of the molecular fuel structure brought back memories of organic chemistry courses taken decades ago. I have had problems with generator fuel filters expiring prematurely. At times of heavy load (maximum fuel consumption), the units starved for fuel, could no longer maintain voltage and frequency, and tripped off-line. The fuel was tested on numerous occasions and was found “normal,” but now I suspect the tests were not testing for the proper parameters.

This article was comprehensive in identifying the symptoms, the root cause of why this happens, and even suggested a solution. Thank you very much for sharing this information.
Bob Pilley, PLI, South Plainfield, NJ

Regarding your article Wireless Power Plant Applications Poised for Expansion (Power Engineering, March 2004, pp. 9): The article is interesting, as far as it went. However there are still unanswered questions, including the need for batteries in hard-to-access areas, nasty environments posed by power plants, the need for RFI and magnetic interference shielding, matters of signal corruption, installation of wiring and wire tracing, and numerous other issues. I fully believe wireless devices are the next quantum leap in industrial controls, but considerable resources must be committed by both manufacturers and end users to bring this about. Management must look at programs extending into the 5 to 10 year time spectrum. ROI in the “next quarter” needs to be purged from their thinking. I understand the concerns over critical loop applications, but I would point out that we currently have two robot explorers on Mars. The first robot explorer was repaired by remote programming across space. Industrial plant installations do not face that problem.
Mike Devlin, Alstom Power