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Distributed Generation

Currently, utilities in the U.S. generate most of their energy from large centralized facilities that use coal, natural gas, nuclear, or hydro power as their “fuel.” These plants have excellent economies of scale, but usually transmit electricity long distances, which can affect their overall efficiency.

On the other hand, distributed generation also called decentralized generation, generates electricity from small scale energy sources located close to where the electric energy is being used.

Distributed generation systems are typically fueled by natural gas, methane, renewable resources, similarly clean fuels, or a combination of these fuels. Some of the technologies used in these systems include small scale wind turbines, photovoltaic panels, microturbines, combined heat and power (CHP), anaerobic digesters and fuel cells.

The benefits of distributed generation can include avoiding the need to expand transmission and distribution capacity, reducing system losses, and, if they’re renewable resources “greening up” a utility’s overall generation resource. Distributed generation can also be used by electric utilities to reduce peak demand and in some cases waste heat created in the process of generating the electricity can be used to heat homes or businesses nearby. The downside of distributed generation is often higher energy costs; however, many states have regulations in place to help improve the financial attractiveness of distributed generation projects.

Great River Energy recognizes that distributed generation is in our future and encourages distributed generation development. Currently, Great River Energy has distributed generation projects on its system including natural gas, wind, photovoltaic and anaerobic digesters.

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