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UMass Chan Power Plant is a Green Champ

The Northeast Clean Heat and Power Initiative named UMass Chan Medical School as a “Clean Heat and Power Champion” at its annual New England regional meeting March 24, 2015 in Boston.

UMass Chan received the Clean Heat and Power Champion from the Northeast Clean Heat and Power Initiative. Pictured from left to right is Mark Armington, senior director of facilities engineering and construction; Suzanne Wood, sustainability and energy manager; Joseph Collins, director of energy resources; and John Baker, associate vice chancellor of facilities.

The “Champion” award was bestowed in recognition of the medical school’s success in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from its co-generation plant, even as it provides more electricity, steam and chilled water to support a growing institution.

“It’s always great to be recognized for our efforts to become more efficient,” said Joseph Collins, director of energy resources at the school who oversees operations at the campus co-generation plant. “All of us are pleased that our plant is running well and delivering the efficiencies that we had expected.”

The campus power plant’s maximum electrical output is now 17.5 megawatts. It produces all the steam and chilled water used on campus for heating and cooling systems. The plant also generates nearly 90 percent of the electricity used by the University Campus.  The medical school maintains a connection to the external utility grid to handle peak demand and for a back-up resource.

In 2012 the medical school completed a significant expansion and upgrade of the plant that included installation of a high-efficiency, 7.5-megawatt, gas-fired combustion turbine and an associated heat recovery system.

The new gas turbine replaced one of the plant’s original gas and oil-fired steam boilers, which was taken off-line and kept in reserve as an emergency back-up. Since natural gas burns more cleanly than oil, and the new jet turbine is highly efficient, the expanded power plant has lower greenhouse gas emissions, despite its added energy capacity.  (In 2003, the plant burned nearly 3 million gallons of oil. In 2014 oil consumption plummeted to just 45,000 gallons.)

Furthermore, producing electricity on-site is approximately 30-percent more efficient than using electricity from the regional distribution network, due to the losses that occur when electricity travels long distances on distribution lines.