Correctional Facilities

Pennsylvania State Correctional Institution at Cresson
The Pennsylvania State Correctional Institution at Cresson is one of over 30 correctional facilities
nationwide benefitting from clean and cost-effective chp

About Prisons and Jails

In the United States, "jail" and "prison" refer to separate levels of incarceration; generally speaking, jails are county or city administrated institutions which house both inmates awaiting trial on the local level and convicted misdemeanants serving a term of one year or less, while prisons are state or federal facilities housing convicted felons serving a term of more than one year. Prisons are generally under state or federal ownership, although there are private prisons that contract with federal or state entities. The term "Correctional Facilities" encompasses both prisons and jails.

Facts and Figures

  • 1,821 adult correction facilities were operating in the U.S. according to the Census of State and Federal Correctional Facilities in 2005 (the most recent survey available). 415 of these were private facilities and 1,406 were public (of which 84 were federal facilities). A total of 3,283 jail facilities, including jails in the federal system, were operating in 2006 (37 of those private).
  • Prisons and large jails represent a significant potential for CHP systems as they generally have a significant coincident thermal/electric load profile to serve space heating, domestic hot water (DHW), laundry, cooking, space cooling, lighting, and plug loads.
  • As of September 2012, CHP systems were in place at 34 correctional facilities, representing over 160 megawatts (MW) of generation capacity (see figure).

CHP Capacity at Correctional Facilities by State (in Megawatts) (2012)

CHP Capacity at Correctional Facilities by State (in Megawatts) (2012) 
Source: CHP Installation Database, ICF International

Opportunity for Combined Heat and Power

CHP offers increased reliability compared to purchased electricity and on-site thermal. This is a key reason it is getting increased attention from correctional facility managers, and the governmental agencies that oversee them. Prisons and jails are critical for maintaining public order and must be able to operate in the event of a natural or man-made disaster, as well as a utility power outage. Because of CHP’s ability to produce electricity and heat on site, independently from the grid if necessary, CHP is a valuable infrastructure addition to correctional facilities. The potential energy cost savings from CHP is another key driver.

Pennsylvania State Correctional Institution at Cresson
The Pennsylvania State Correctional Institution at
Cresson has a 300 KW CHP district energy system

Project Profile

The Pennsylvania State Correctional Institution at Cresson has installed a new biomass boiler that produces high-pressure steam to run a 300-kW steam turbine generator. The resulting low-pressure steam is piped into the campus-wide steam distribution system and is used for space heating, domestic water heating, and laundry operations.

The biomass feedstock is primarily supplied by two different suppliers within 100 miles; about 10 other suppliers can provide additional biomass if needed. The price of the biomass supply is somewhat variable, but remains lower cost than other fuel options.

Adding the CHP plant increased the power reliability on top of the two diesel stand-by generators and dual utility feeds to the site.

The project was installed using a third-party 15-year energy service company (ESCO) contract that included the new biomass CHP plant and upgrading the steam distribution system.

Additional Resources