In response to recent questions, the Central Power Plant expansion timeline has not changed since it was announced in October 2018. The project, which will significantly reduce U-M's greenhouse gas emissions, is expected to be completed winter 2021.
The university has engaged the U-M community, as well as the local community, on this project and its progress since it was first introduced as one of the recommendations from a committee – comprising students, faculty and staff – in October 2015.
Since that time, there have been numerous stories in the University Record, as well as the Michigan Daily and MLive; opportunities for public comment on the project during the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s air permit process; numerous public tours of the Central Power Plant as well as U-M hosted community meetings on the project in October 2017 and November 2018.
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President Schlissel announced October 4, 2018 that U-M will pursue a path toward carbon neutrality. Schlissel also affirmed that we are on track to meet or exceed our existing goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2025.
To achieve the 25% reduction, U-M is installing a natural gas turbine in the Central Power Plant and pursuing a renewable-energy purchase agreement to reduce emissions.
The turbine will reduce U-M’s greenhouse gas emissions by about 80,000 metric tons annually, bringing us about halfway to the 2025 goal. The Central Power Plant uses co-generation to generate electricity from steam that would otherwise be wasted, resulting in an overall efficiency of 70-80%—much higher than conventional power plants. This project was recommended in the 2015 report from the President’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Committee as “the single largest contributor to meeting the 2025 target.” Also, the State of Michigan Energy Office and the City of Ann Arbor’s Climate Action Plan recommend expansion of co-generation as part of the future energy mix.
The power purchase agreement under negotiation will enable U-M to procure large-scale renewable energy generated in Michigan. The agreement will reduce our emissions by replacing a portion of the electricity we purchase with renewable energy such as solar or wind. Emissions associated with the electricity we purchase, which currently relies heavily on coal, are included in our goal. Therefore, increasing the portion of our purchased electricity that comes from renewable sources will reduce our overall emissions.
The Central Power Plant (CPP) is a highly efficient, natural gas co-generation facility providing steam heat and electrical power to most Central and Medical Campus buildings. The electricity and steam are generated from energy that otherwise would be wasted. This results in an overall efficiency of 70-80 percent, which is higher than most power plants. A new 15-megawatt combustion turbine to be added to the CPP will reduce the university's overall greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 80,000 metric tons per year, which is the equivalent of removing more than 17,000 passenger vehicles from the road annually. Increasing our own capacity to generate electricity and reducing our dependence on coal-based power reduces our carbon footprint and brings us approximately halfway toward our university goal of reducing total emissions for the Ann Arbor campus by 25 percent.
In the fall of 2017, we introduced the project to the local community through a neighborhood outreach meeting (presentation slides) and we will hold another meeting in the near future to keep interested community members informed as the project progresses.
The project will include appropriate emissions pollution control technologies and air monitoring equipment and devices to meet permit requirements. Additional information about specific limits will be available after receipt of public input and MDEQ's review of our permit application. Noise control will be implemented to go beyond compliance with City and University noise regulations and ensure there are no perceptible changes in noise levels.
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Over the last twelve years (FY06 to FY18), energy use per square foot has decreased by 25% in general fund buildings and by 16% university-wide due to gains in energy efficiency. Check out Building Energy Data for up-to-date details on energy use by building.