On October 19, 2013 all spark-ignition (natural gas or gasoline-fired) Reciprocating Internal Combustion Engine (RICE) units are required to be in compliance with the RICE MACT. By that date facilities with RICE units must install non-resettable operating hour meters on any spark-ignition RICE unit and establish recordkeeping procedures to monitor and record the number of operating hours and under what mode (emergency power generation, maintenance and testing, etc.) the RICE unit operated. (Recall that May 3, 2103 was the compliance date for compression ignition (diesel-fired) RICE units). By the respective compliance dates, facilities with RICE units should also have reviewed and amended any O&M plans to ensure their consistency with the minimum work practices required by the RICE MACT for these engines, as well as the procedures provided by the manufacturer documentation.

In addition, minor changes to the RICE MACT may affect your emergency generators. The regulation does not limit the number of hours the facility can operate your generators in response to true emergencies; e.g., to provide power to critical networks or equipment when service from the local power utility is interrupted or used to power a water pump in case of a fire or flood. The original rule also allowed emergency generator operation of up to 100 hours per year for maintenance and readiness testing.

Several changes to the RICE MACT were promulgated on January 30, 2013. Under those changes, emergency RICE units are now allowed to operate during emergency demand response mode and in non-emergency situations within the 100 hours per calendar year limit.  Emergency stationary RICE units may now be operated for:

  • Emergency demand response for periods in which the Reliability Coordinator under the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) Reliability Standard EOP-002-3, Capacity and Energy Emergencies or other authorized entity as determined by the Reliability Coordinator, has declared an Energy Emergency Alert Level 2 as defined in the NERC Reliability Standard EOP-002-3.
  • Periods where there is a deviation of voltage or frequency of 5 percent or greater below standard voltage or frequency.

For non-emergency operations:

  • Emergency stationary RICE units located at major HAP sources may now be operated for up to 50 hours per calendar year in non-emergency situations. The 50 hours per year limit for non-emergency situations, which are counted towards the overall 100 hour per year limit, cannot be used for peak shaving or non-emergency demand response, or to generate income for a facility to supply power to an electric grid or otherwise supply power as part of a financial arrangement with another entity.
  • Emergency stationary RICE units located at area HAP sources may now be operated for up to 50 hours per calendar year in non-emergency situations.  Again, the 50 hours of operation in non-emergency situations are counted as part of the 100 hours per calendar year operating limit for maintenance and testing and emergency demand response.
  • Prior to May 3, 2014, the 50 hours per year for non-emergency situations can be used for peak shaving or non-emergency demand response to generate income for a facility, or to otherwise supply power as part of a financial arrangement with another entity if the engine is operated as part of a peak shaving (load management program) with the local distribution system operator and the power is provided only to the facility itself or to support the local distribution system.
  • The 50 hours per year for non-emergency situations can also be used to supply power as part of a financial arrangement with another entity if all of the following conditions are met:
    • The engine is dispatched by the local balancing authority or local transmission and distribution system operator.
    • The dispatch is intended to mitigate local transmission and/or distribution limitations so as to avert potential voltage collapse or line overloads that could lead to the interruption of power supply in a local area or region.
    • The dispatch follows reliability, emergency operation or similar protocols that follow specific NERC, regional, state, public utility commission or local standards or guidelines.
    • The power is provided only to the facility itself or to support the local transmission and distribution system.
    • The owner or operator identifies and records the entity that dispatches the engine and the specific NERC, regional, state, public utility commission, or local standards or guidelines that are being followed for dispatching the engine. The local balancing authority or local transmission and distribution system operator may keep these records on behalf of the engine owner or operator.

If your engines qualify and your facility decides to take advantage of the newly permissible operating modes, be aware that you will have substantial additional recordkeeping and reporting requirements to document operating hours under those modes.

Authored by Graham Crockford, TRC Environmental Corporation