Money Watchers: RI corporation creates combined heat-and-power unit

A Rhode Island engineering and construction company on Thursday celebrated a manufacturing milestone in green energy.

The A/Z Corporation recently finished the production of a combined heat and power unit, the first of its kind in Rhode Island.

"What we do is we take natural gas. We use it to run a generator. And then we capture the waste heat off the generator and use that to off-set a boiler operational plant," said Robert Rose of A/Z Corporation.

The plant is based in Hopkinton, where jobs are promised.

"Based on the work load it goes up and down, but based on our core we have 430 employees of which about 80 are Rhode Island employees and that will vacillate between 20 or 30 in here on any given day," said Perry Lorenz of A/Z Corporation.

The technology promises sustainable energy, and to be more efficient. It's widely used in Europe.

"It's gaining more and more acceptance in the United States particularly in the northeast because of our energy prices, weather conditions and the decline in gas prices," Rose said.

Units cost about $1 million.

"But that package will pay for itself within two to three years of operation," Rose said.

The units can be found in large hospitals and universities or other industrial organizations open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and requiring electric and thermal energy. The corporation recently sold a unit to Wesleyan University in Connecticut.

"It's a good story. It's a win-win for the company, the state and the people who work here," said state Sen. Dennis Algiere (R-Charlestown, Westerly, South Kingstown).

A/Z Corporation also has a location in North Stonington, Conn.