As things stand in New York at present, diesel is the primary fuel that is used in a vast majority of the standby and emergency generators in the city. This was because of the restrictive codes in the city which prevent the effective use of other types of generators. But, in recent years, more and more property owners are waking up to the realization that natural gas generators may be a more viable alternative and at present it looks like the most promising alternative on the market. In fact the only reason why it is not as widely used in the city as it could have been is because of the current building codes in NYC which effectively bar the use of natural gas as the only fuel supply for a generator except in two explicitly defined conditions. Under the current building codes, natural gas can be used as the only fuel supply to a generator in two cases;
- As emergency power systems in buildings such as multi-family high rise buildings which are classified as Group R-2 occupancies
- As standby power systems in buildings provided that they remain isolated using a cut-off valve from all other gas services within the same building. The valve used must be a valve that meets all the requirements specified under the NYC Fuel Gas Code.
Aside from the restrictions imposed by the building codes in the city, everything else about the use of natural gas generators looks very promising and most of the property owners in the city strongly believe that the advantages of using natural gas generators far outweigh any possible drawbacks that might be associated with it. These advantages include the following.
- Logistical advantage- being the only fuel that is delivered in New York City as a utility service means that the logistical challenges of delivery of natural gas are fewer and easier to deal with compared to the challenges of supplying other alternative types of fuel such as diesel, heating oil, propane and gasoline. If any other fuel besides natural gas is to be used then there would be need for some form of local storage which would take up space and create even more logistical challenges. Being that natural gas is readily supplied through a pipe there is absolutely no need to store the gas and it can be accessed at any time. Not to mention the fact that it comes with a much lower power generation cost per kilowatt of power generated.
- Reliability- natural gas is more reliable than other fuel options when used in emergency situations which makes natural gas generators ideal for use in high risk areas where power loss cannot be afforded.
- Natural gas generators are also ideal for use by consumers who are subjected to time-of-day rates by the electricity suppliers. Such consumers would be able to configure their natural gas generator to take over during peak hours when the cost of electricity is high and serve as a cheaper alternative that is still able to get the job done.