When Disaster Strikes: Critical On-Site Cogeneration Issues Relating to Reliability & Liability
Widespread disasters in recent years such as Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy have focused attention upon the reliability of, and possible legal issues relating to, on-site generation. This article focuses upon onsite generation, such as synchronous cogeneration, which can start when the grid is down, and other emergency back-up generation that has the capacity to function during an electric distribution outage. Cogeneration has the economic advantage of providing baseline electric and thermal energy to the facility whether or not the grid is operational. Here we concentrate on cogeneration and generation at healthcare facilities and within multi-occupant residential dwellings and discuss certain legal consequences arising as a result of failing to provide on-site power when required to do so by law. We also discuss the potential consequences resulting from the installation of cogeneration in multi-occupant residential buildings when the owner has no legal obligation to make such an installation, and how such consequences, including obligations that arise, can be addressed and potential legal liability mitigated.