Vol. 20   No. 1
Winter 2015
  • MGE Talks Business
News Briefs

MGE upgrading BGS generators

MGE upgrading BGS generators

A new silencer is lifted into position on a generator at Ho-Chunk Gaming in Madison. MGE is updating generators in our Backup Generator Service program to meet new EPA standards and to install silencers.

MGE is continuing a project to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) updated emissions standards for stationary diesel engines. The new standards affect MGE's Backup Generator Service (BGS) program as stationary diesel engines that are connected to the electrical grid must meet the standards or face restricted operating hours.

MGE's BGS program

The BGS program provides emergency power via generators to participating MGE customers. The generators are owned, operated and maintained by MGE but are located on-site at customer facilities. The systems provide emergency back-up power within seconds of an outage; MGE can also use them to boost system reliability in an electrical emergency.

Participating customers include data centers, the City of Madison (a number of city water wells are backed up by MGE generators) and a variety of labs and manufacturing and processing plants. The generators range in size from 500 kW to 2,000+ kW—a generator on the larger end could power a multistory building with a data center and hundreds of staff.

"Organizations use BGS when backup power is important but they don't have the staff to maintain the system or don't want to make the capital investment," said Dan Clausen, senior construction management engineer at MGE. "MGE takes care of everything for our BGS customers."

New standards and their benefits

The new EPA standards have two components:

  1. Reduced emission of hazardous air pollutants including carbon monoxide (at least a 70% reduction).
  2. Built-in monitoring to ensure the equipment meets EPA requirements.

"The retrofit is similar to installing a catalytic converter on your car," Clausen said.

In addition to reducing carbon monoxide, the upgrade also cuts levels of formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, acrolein and methanol.

Another big benefit: additional run time. "There was a 100-hour annual limit for generator use," Clausen said. "Once a BGS unit is upgraded, there's a large increase in allowed hours of operation."

Upgrade schedule

MGE has 55 units to upgrade and anticipates an October 2015 completion date. "Each BGS site is unique," Clausen said. "A one-day turnaround is possible for many sites, but it could take as long as a week depending on the situation."

MGE also will install new silencers during the upgrade.

Questions about the BGS program or the system upgrade? Contact MGE's Dave Toso at 608-252-5641.