Power-Up! A Look at our Next Generation’s Co-generation

The process of producing energy to metropolitan condos and co-ops has dramatically evolved in recent years. It's advanced to the point in which Lewis Kwit, the president of Energy Investment Systems in New York City, makes a relatively accurate—and amusing—comparison. “The old way of using a traditional energy-producing system is like using a chainsaw to cut butter,” he says with a chuckle.    

Specifically, though, what are these new energy-producing technologies? Can they save money long-term and short-term, for a co-op, condo or an HOA? How can they be acquired when it seems, quite literally, as if major commercial energy suppliers are the only option available? Some communities are exploring these questions and coming up with solutions that are saving them both energy and money.

In the Chicagoland area, many co-ops and condos receive energy from Commonwealth Edison (ComEd), which supplies both distribution and wiring. As Chris Gersch, founder of Chicago-based energy consultant firm Verde Solutions, explains, the city has a near-even split of use between coal and nuclear power, with less than 5 percent carved out for wind.

"In Illinois, we use Wyoming coal, because the in-state supply is too dirty," he says. "Exelon [the largest operator of nuclear power plants in the United States, and headquartered in Chicago] has a bill in the Illinois General Assembly to bail out several of its plants. But, with that said, coal is expensive and not environmentally friendly, while nuclear is taboo and in need of reinvestment." As of June 2015, the bill was unlikely to pass legislative muster in Springfield and may lead to the closure of several of its plants.

So it seems as if the time is ripe to explore some alternative options.

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