BERLIN – Town officials celebrated the installation of a new generator meant to help Berlin continue its efforts to keep electric costs low.
Municipal officials joined town staff and executives from Carter Machinery and Chesapeake Utilities on Wednesday for a ribbon cutting for a new Cat G3520 generator set. The natural gas generator replaces a diesel generator that failed last July.
“Today our town takes one more important step in its commitment to environmental stewardship,” Mayor Gee Williams said.
Town Administrator Jeff Fleetwood said Berlin began the process of replacing the generator more than a year ago. He credited the town’s insurance carrier, Carter Machinery and Chesapeake Utilities for working with the town to get the project complete. The new 2-megawatt natural gas generator cost $1.4 million, all but $125,000 of which was covered by insurance. Berlin’s generators, which allow it to reduce the amount of power it purchases off the grid, save the town about $560,000 a year.
Mary Beth Tung, director of the Maryland Energy Administration, said her agency was proud to support jurisdictions that were interested in implementing sustainable and energy efficient practices.
“The state of Maryland has been working diligently to expand alternative energy options like natural gas to residents and businesses,” she said. “Cleaner energy is a key to improved environment and for expanded economic development for the residents of the entire Eastern Shore.”
Tung said conversions to natural gas replaced dirtier energy commodities.
“Quite frankly we can’t meet our clean air goals without natural gas on the Eastern Shore,” she said. “That’s just the truth.”
Aaron Sullivan, Carter Machinery’s executive vice president of power systems, praised the “forward thinking” decisions of the town and said the company was excited to be part of the project.
“We want to be there, not just to be a fun shiny toy, but something that does work and that puts power back to your communities and helps lower your cost of operation,” he said.
His comments were echoed by Bill Cridlin, vice president of power systems for Carter Machinery.
“I really tip my cap to the town,” he said. “The advantages of a solution like this are absolutely tremendous.”
Dave Detrick of Chesapeake Utilities said Berlin’s project was the latest in a long line of conversions the company had helped with to reduce costs and emissions.
“In addition to the economic benefits, emissions are reduced significantly with this generator,” he said. “Natural gas is the cleanest burning fuel available for the town and this project. It reduces CO2 emissions by about 30%… The town can breathe a little easier.”
Williams said the town had powered the community’s electric service for more than 100 years and had a productive record of generation and distribution.
“Through all kinds of technological and market changes Berlin’s electric utility has an outstanding record and tradition for providing highly dependable and efficient electric service,” he said, adding that the town’s efforts had been recognized by American Municipal Power. “Reliability and affordability are both extremely important to our citizens.”
Going forward, the town is expected to consider replacing its other diesel generators with natural gas.