UNH Addresses Growing Utilities
Infrastructure Concerns; Trustees Give Go-Ahead for Cogeneration
Contact: Kim Billings
UNH Media Relations
February 18, 2004
DURHAM, N.H. -- The University System of New Hampshire Board of
Trustees last week authorized the University of New Hampshire to
upgrade the current heating plant and related facilities on the
Durham campus - a plan that is projected to avoid energy costs of
$35 million over the next 20 years.
A $28 million cogeneration plant will be financed through a combination
of an internal loan and a capital lease, according to Candace Corvey,
UNH vice president for finance and administration. “Most of
the cost of this project is in equipment that can be externally
financed through a capital lease, thus reducing our need to draw
upon scarce internal resources.”
“The plan is essential in order to meet the campus's need
for more energy, maximize reliability, promote a cleaner environment
and contain costs,” explains Allan Braun, associate vice president
for facilities at UNH.
The many benefits that will be realized by UNH in taking a comprehensive
approach to heating, cooling, and electrical needs on campus provides
a strong example of effective use of limited resources to maximize
operating efficiency, says Ed MacKay, vice chancellor and treasurer
for the University System of New Hampshire.
“The financing of the utility upgrade plan is an example
of the university system's willingness to engage in `self-help'
to fund the majority of its capital investment needs,” MacKay
explains. “State appropriation support is focused almost exclusively
on capital projects that directly impact student learning, such
as academic buildings, labs and lecture halls. We leverage our assets
to fund other capital projects - using the Health and Education
Finance Authority (HEFA) bonds for self-supporting projects
such as residence and dining halls; federal grants for research
facilities, and; private gifts and operating budgets for ongoing
improvements in the physical plant.”
UNH officials say the existing central steam heating plant has
reached capacity. Without the cogeneration project, the capital
cost of adding future heating capacity through 2016 is estimated
to be $17 million. Chilled water requirements necessary for air
conditioning for research purposes would add another $7.8 million.
In addition, the electrical requirements at UNH are far outpacing
the electrical infrastructure. Two substations are 40 years old,
and another will need to be replaced within 10 years. Replacement
costs for the substations is $450,000.
Braun says the cogeneration process is highly efficient, because
it generates electricity with hot gas turbines that, as a byproduct,
produce waste heat. That heat is used to produce steam and chilled
water (necessary for air conditioning) at very low cost. This approach
provides energy flexibility, as the plant could utilize #6 oil,
#2 oil, natural gas, or external electricity depending on the relative
cost and availability of each.
He notes the university has been exploring various options for
its Utility Master Plan over the past three years. After completion
of a comprehensive feasibility study, and many conversations with
stakeholders, UNH officials concluded that a cogeneration plant
was the best option.
Braun adds that co-generation is environmentally friendly and very
The plant - which would be located beside the current heating plant
behind the Service Building - is estimated to cost $22 million to
construct and equip. UNH also would build a chiller node (needed
for air conditioning) near Philbrook Dining Hall for roughly $6
million in order to provide chilled water to eight surrounding buildings.
The plant and the chiller node will be constructed to enable additional
generating, chilled water, and heating capacity to be added as the
university's physical plant grows.
The plant and the chiller node are expected to be on line and operational
by the fall of 2005. The plant will be operated by a private company,
EMCOR, under a contract closely managed by UNH. The contract will
provide incentives for EMCOR to operate the plant efficiently and