Regents approve $95M power plant

by Hailey Colwell

The University of Minnesota Board of Regents approved designs Friday for building a combined heat and power plant near campus.

The nearly $95.9 million project is currently set to be completed by January 2016.

In 2012, the Minnesota Legislature allotted $10 million for the project, according to a press release from University News Service.

Plans for the combined heat and power plant began in 2012. The project includes renovating the decommissioned Old Main Heating Plant near Sanford Hall to install a combined heat and power generator. The generator will incorporate two combustion turbines with heat recovery systems that will provide heat and electricity to the University in a more sustainable and cost-effective manner, said Mike Berthelsen, associate vice president for University Facilities Management.

The project will help keep the University on top of its climate action plan, which outlines specific steps for the University to achieve a carbon neutral footprint by 2050, Berthelsen said at a community meeting for the project in November.

Construction for the project will begin August 2014, according to the University’s Capital Planning and Project management website.

The design plan also includes leaving room for steam and chiller equipment to be added in the future. Berthelsen said this would allow the University to save energy by not having separate air conditioners on different buildings.

"It’s much more efficient and sustainable to have a really large plant that can feed a whole district,” Berthelsen said.