WSU Reviews Energy Plant Proposals

PULLMAN, Wash. — Washington State University is reviewing four proposals to redevelop the university’s energy plant for the production of combined heat and power. Capacity of the redeveloped facility will be a minimum of 30 megawatts of electricity with steam production in excess of 300,000 pounds per hour.

The university relies on the production of steam as a sole source of heat for the majority of the buildings on campus. Steam is additionally used for absorption chillers in the summer months, and is used year around in support of the university’s research mission. Ongoing reliability problems experienced in the existing plant since 1999 make the success of this project vital to the continued teaching and research missions of the university.

WSU received six proposals in response to a January 22, 2001 solicitation for a private partner. The proposals were screened and four remain viable. If a successful agreement can be negotiated, a private partner and the university will be co-developers in the financing, fuels procurement, marketing of excess power, plant design, equipment procurement, construction, operation and maintenance of the completed facility.

The university is continuing dialogue with Duke Solutions, Quixx, Avista Utilities, and Trigen Energy Corporation. All four of these companies are nationally recognized leaders in cogeneration. “We believe that we could form a successful partnership with any of the four, and will be meeting with each of them through the month of April,” said Rick Zilar, WSU’s project manager. Negotiations are expected to begin with one or more of those companies by May 1.

Proposals range from reuse of the existing facility with a production capacity of 30 to 40 megawatts, to construction of a new 70 megawatt facility on the east end of campus. Regardless of the final configuration or location of the facility, the university is committed to site improvements adjacent to the existing plant in efforts to clean up the campus’ western entrance.

WSU is a recognized leader in energy conservation efforts and has enacted a number of measures intended to reduce energy consumption on campus. The energy plant redevelopment project is an effort to obtain greater efficiency and further reduce energy costs over the long term.