U-M Central Power Plant Expansion to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions


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The University of Michigan's sustainability goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent below 2006 levels by 2025.

Photo courtesy: University of Michigan

A new $80-million combustion turbine planned for the University of Michigan's Central Power Plant in Ann Arbor will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help the institution meet roughly 50 percent of its 2025 sustainability goal.

The 15-megawatt combustion turbine, which will be housed in a 12,000-square-foot addition, is expected to reduce greenhouse emissions by 100,00 tons per year, an amount equivalent to the amount of energy used by 10,000 homes annually, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 

The project was approved Thursday by the U-M Board of Regents. Project funding will be provided from utility resources. The project will return to the Board of Regents for approval as it relates to the schematic design and the construction schedule. 

"Our targeted greenhouse gas emissions reduction is an ambitious goal and this project marks a significant step in the right direction as well as providing a sound financial projection for the university," says Kevin Hegarty, U-M’s CFO and executive vice president.

The Central Power Plant provides heat and power to most central and medical campus buildings, and was constructed in 1915. It was converted to natural gas from coal in the 1960s to operate more efficiently. The current cogeneration system uses steam to heat buildings and waste steam to generate electricity, resulting in an overall efficiency of 80 percent.

The addition of the turbine to the Central Power Plant was among the efforts recommended to U-M president Mark Schlissel to improve progress towards the university’s sustainability goals, specifically to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent below 2006 levels by 2025. 

The project will require a Michigan Department of Environmental Quality air emission permit and will incorporate all appropriate pollution control technologies, U-M says. The architectural firm of Black and Veatch will design the project, which is expected to create 130 on-site construction jobs. 

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