Diesel emissions have been measured and monitored for more than 50 years. In the beginning, stationary engines, which is any industrial engine permanently installed at a site for at least one year, were governed locally or by the state. This meant that diesel generator sets and other on-site energy power systems were exempt from federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) pollution regulations. However, this changed over time as the EPA worked to pass pollution control standards applicable to any diesel-fueled machinery, including stationary engines and generators. One such example of these standards is the RICE NESHAP plan passed in 2010. Below is more information regarding the RICE NESHAP plan and how it affects owners of diesel generators.
What is RICE NESHAP?
RICE NESHAP stands for the Reciprocating Internal Combustion Engines National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants. Hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) are emissions that are considered by the EPA to be especially dangerous, and RICE NESHAP is one set of federal rules intended to reduce dangerous multi-chemical emissions through the regulation of stationary engines; especially those that run on diesel.
Are Emergency Standby Generators Affected by RICE NESHAP Regulations?
Contrary to popular belief, RICE NESHAP regulations actually do apply to emergency standby generators. In fact, a set of runtime guidelines exclusive to emergency generators was set in place to guarantee compliance. However, while RICE NESHAP tends to be unyieldingly strict in its rules for non-emergency diesel power generators, pollution control is more relaxed for emergency standby generators. This is because emergency generators are used infrequently and usually only for short periods of time. Still, emergency generator compliance with RICE NESHAP is necessary. Emergency generator runtime guidelines include:
Unlimited runtime is permitted in the event of an emergency.
Generator maintenance and testing is permitted for up to, but not exceeding, 100 hours per year.
Non-emergency backup generator operation is permitted for up to, but not exceeding, 50 hours per year as part of the 100 hour maintenance and testing restriction.
Is RICE NESHAP Compliance Mandatory for All Diesel Generators?
RICE NESHAP regulations are aimed at the reduction of HAP emissions from any emergency, non-emergency, residential, or commercial diesel machinery—including generators—in both major sources and area sources. Major sources refer to any location that produces 10 tons of a single HAP, or 25 tons of multiple HAPs every year. Area sources refer to any location that produces less HAPs than a major source. In order to know if your generator is required to comply with RICE NESHAP rules, you must know the following:
Your generator’s kilowattage (kW)
Your generator engine’s horsepower (HP)
The number of hours your generator is active per year
Whether your generator is a major source or an area source of emissions
Once you know this information, you can confirm with the manufacturer whether or not RICE NESHAP compliance is mandatory for your diesel generator. However, it is important to remember that newer generator models are constructed with emission regulation compliance in mind.
Is There a Difference Between NSPS and RICE NESHAP?
These two sets of EPA pollution control standards are very similar, but they each comply with the demands of the Clean Air Act in different ways. The major differences between NSPS and RICE NESHAP include the following:
RICE NESHAP regulations are meant to diminish the emissions of the 187 HAPs that are known to cause severe health problems. These chemicals include, but are not limited to, benzene (found in gasoline), asbestos, hydrogen sulfide, and lead compounds.
NSPS regulations are meant to monitor a broader range of control criteria pollutant emissions, like particulate matter, photochemical oxidants, and ground-level ozone.
RICE NESHAP regulations apply to new and existing power generators. Those built in the early 2000’s or before are generally labeled as “existing” while any built in more recent years are considered “new.”
NSPS regulations apply to new or modified power generators, but not to existing generators.
Each set of these pollution control regulations apply to different emission toxins and sources. Still, both NSPS and RICE NESHAP apply to spark ignition engines and combustion ignition engines, the latter of which includes diesel generators.
The U.S. federal emission requirements for stationary engines were executed by the EPA with the goal of further reducing HAP emissions from industrial engines, including diesel generators. So, it is of vital importance to understand the variable applicability of these rules and abide by them accordingly to ensure that your generator meets emission requirements. Neglecting to do so will undoubtedly cause harm to both the environment and your health.
Assurance Power Systems is here to make certain your generator meets RICE NESHAP and other pollution control standards. For more information about diesel generators and their emission regulation requirements, call our experts at (561) 944-8589.
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