Wellhead Energy CEO David Weddle (left) and Kentucky Congressman Hal Rogers (right) next to Jackson Energy Cooperative’s cool blue GridFox power station.
Photo credit: Wellhead Energy Systems
Jackson Electric Cooperative’s big blue box is generating more than just curiosity from members in McKee, Kentucky – it’s generating 375 kW of electricity using natural gas, enough to power about 225 homes.
Called the GridFox Energy Conversion Station, this small generator, produced by Wellhead Energy Systems in Somerset, Kentucky, adds capacity to the co-op’s power supply with relatively little infrastructure investment since the drilling has already been done.
The idea behind GridFox is to tap into a stranded natural gas well. As Carol Wright, Jackson Energy’s chief operations officer, explains, that’s a well that was drilled but then abandoned for one reason or another. The co-op’s first installed GridFox uses gas from an active pipeline; however, the plan is to install others using gas from stranded wells.
“Our area is full of those stranded natural gas wells,” Wright said, estimating there could be thousands. “The quantity and the quality may not be good enough to supply a major pipeline, but it may be good enough to supply a small generator that creates electricity onto our grid.”
As cooperatives look for new sources of distributed generation to meet rising demand, the GridFox Energy Conversion Station, a first of its kind, shows a lot of potential.
To operate, just turn on the gas, and the GridFox cleans and compresses it, which powers a combustion engine that drives a generator. The amount of electricity produced depends on the size of the well and the amount of natural gas available.