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A powerful green incentive: school reaps $5.6 million

UMass Chan Medical School has been awarded $5.6 million from National Grid—the largest incentive of its kind ever given by the company in Massachusetts—for an energy-efficient 14,000-square-foot expansion of its power plant.  

The incentive is designed to help the Medical School achieve its energy efficiency goals by providing innovative energy solutions that also will benefit the community through reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

“As a public institution, we believe it is incumbent on us to lead by example and manage our growth in ways that limit the impact on our environment,” said Chancellor Michael F. Collins. “It takes strong partnerships to meet these challenges. National Grid’s incentive program allows us to focus on making investments for the long-term by introducing cleaner technologies to our campus that will pay dividends for the people of the commonwealth for decades to come.”

At the heart of the power plant expansion is a high-efficiency, 7.5-megawatt, gas-fired combustion turbine and an associated heat recovery steam generator that will boost the Medical School’s capacity to generate electricity on its Worcester campus while reducing its green-house gas emissions. The expansion was launched to support the 500,000-square-foot Albert Sherman Center research and education facility currently under construction.

With the new cogeneration system in place, UMass Chan will increase its maximum electric output from 10 to 17.5 megawatts, allowing it to meet most of the electrical demand of the campus and provide all the steam and chilled water needed for heating and cooling.

Once installed, the new gas turbine will replace one of the plant’s original gas and oil-fired steam boilers, which will be taken off-line and kept in reserve as an emergency back-up. Since natural gas burns cleaner than oil, and the new jet turbine is highly efficient, the expanded power plant will actually have lower green-house gas emissions, despite its added energy capacity. The medical school will maintain a connection to the external utility grid to handle peak demand and for a backup resource.

“National Grid is passionate about sustainability and its stewardship of our region’s energy resources. That’s why we drive energy efficiency with our energy partners, for both their short-term benefit and the long-term promise for us all,” said National Grid Massachusetts President Marcy L. Reed. “UMass Chan Medical School has a long history of championing and implementing energy-efficient measures and is truly leading by example. We are delighted to collaborate with the school on this important project.”

In addition to serving the needs of the Medical School, the power plant also supplies heat, electricity and chilled water for UMass Memorial Medical Center’s clinical operations on the University Campus.

“UMass Memorial Medical Center is proud to be involved in this partnership,” said John G. O’Brien, president and CEO of UMass Memorial Health Care. “By becoming more efficient in the way we produce and consume power and energy, we can help to reduce expenses, which helps to ultimately reduce the overall cost of health care.”

The incentive was formally presented to UMass Chan Medical School on April 9, 2012. Below is a video from that event.