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A project to use steam to generate electricity within a home is being developed by the Dunkirk Division of ECR International, the former Dunkirk Radiator Co. on Middle Road.

The project is investigating a self-powered heating system that would use low- or moderate-pressure steam to generate electricity to operate the system's own electrical components or possibly other household appliances and systems.

"The components to be operated include fans for a forced air system or the pumps for a hot water-based system," Gary Davidson of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) said.

NYSERDA has provided a $200,000 grant for the project, with private capital contributing the remainder of the $500,000 cost.

"Not only can self-powered heating eliminate the loss of heat during power outages, but it has the potential to reduce customer's utility bills as well," said Authority President F. Will Valentino. "Annually, up to $200 of the average residential customer's bill can be attributed to the controls, pumps and blowers associated with the heating system."

The system may also be used to power other electrical appliances, depending on cost, Davidson added.

The authority cited the power losses in the 1998 ice storm in the Northeast as one of the reasons for looking for reliability in electrical supply. The grant for the project comes from the New York Energy $mart program that is funded by a systems benefit charge established by the PSC on five of the state's investor-owned utilities.

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