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2008 Vintage of Microturbines Now Operating on Lafayette Street

Two years ago, Astor Wines and Spirits relocated to the Theodore De Vinne Press Building at 399 Lafayette Street, on the northeast corner of Fourth Street in the Village. At the time, Andrew Fisher, whose family has owned the building since 1983, installed two microturbines in the basement. Until last December, though, when Mayor Bloomberg signed legislation authorizing the installation and use of microturbines, the Fishers had yet to turn the system on. Mr. Fisher told the New York Times earlier this week that the two microturbines, now operating pursuant to the rule, provide enough energy to heat, cool, and provide electricity for his store and its upstairs cooking school and gallery. He’s also exploring the installation of a third microturbine that would power the space of the building’s six commercial tenants above. “Our goal is to be completely off of the grid,” he told the Times.

Microturbines, as you’ll recall, capture the heat waste generated by their turbines in producing electricity and transform it into usable energy, making them between 70 and 80 percent efficient (compared with 30 to 35 percent efficiency for most types of power plants). The Fishers spent $480,000 on the system, which should produce approximately 120kW of electricity per hour. Ashok Gupta, head of NRDC’s air and energy program, told the Times that “[w]e don’t expect every existing building to put in a microturbine, but we are supportive of this as part of a portfolio of solutions.”

RSP Systems installed the two microturbines at Astor Wines and Spirits; as gbNYC noted previously, the firm also executed the city’s first microturbine installation pursuant to the new rule at LEED Gold-certified Millenium Tower Residences in Battery Park City. In order to install a microturbine system, owners must (1) receive permission from the utility company, (2) file an application with the Department of Buildings, and (3) obtain a permit from the Fire Department in order to operate the system once DOB issues the first permit and the system is actually installed. The rule is codified under Title 1 of the Rules of the City of New York under Chapter 50, Distributed Energy Resource Standards.

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