EPA, DoE recognize U-M power plants for emissions avoidance
Advanced technology, use of natural gas and other operational efficiencies at the university's two campus power plants have resulted in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Energy (DoE) formally recognizing the facilities for their avoidance of greenhouse gas emissions in 2011.
The Climate Protection Partnerships Division — a program partnership between the EPA and DoE — last month notified U-M of its recognition. The university has been a member of the program since 2002 when it received the Energy Star Award for the Central Power Plant (CPP).
Emissions data from the university's CPP and North Campus Research Complex power plant for 2011 was submitted and analyzed, and the EPA determined that the facilities avoided an output of 36,000 metric tons of emissions. That amount is comparable to the electricity required to power 16,249 U.S. homes.
"By producing more of our own energy at our two power plants, we are able to provide heat, electricity and steam to the campus in a highly efficient manner," says Richard Robben, executive director for plant operations. "We are very pleased that the EPA and Department of Energy have formally recognized our efforts to avoid carbon outputs and our commitment to sustainability here at the University of Michigan."
The university's Plant Operations team employs a series of initiatives that contribute to the energy efficiency of the two campus power plants. One of these is combined cycle technology, which uses efficient gas turbines to produce electricity, repurposes the energy output from the turbines to produce steam, and then uses the steam to provide more energy.
The use of natural gas — a cleaner source of fuel — to operate the two plants also contributes to a more energy efficient operation. The CPP also uses cogeneration — which it has done for nearly 50 years — as a power production technique to create even greater energy efficiency.
The EPA also calculated that 904,000 metric tons of carbon equivalent were avoided in 2011 due to the operational efficiency of the two power plants. This most recent recognition of the university's energy reduction efforts is not the first time U-M has caught the attention of the EPA. In 2004 U-M received the Energy Star Partner of the Year Award for Leadership in Energy Management, one of the most prestigious honors bestowed by the EPA.