The University of Massachusetts Amherst Building Authority recently closed the old coal power plant which is adjacent to campus center way (Main Campus).This was the only source of the utility system at UMass for many decades , and then scheduled to be replaced in the early 1970s by Tilson Farm steam plant which was dilemma, and it never functioned. In mid 70s, the main steam canal ruptured in numerous places and the coal plant was never used. The old power plant was no longer, sufficient to meet the need of the growing UMass. The new central heating power plant being constructed near the Mullins center to meet the nearly all the energy needs of the over 400 campus buildings totaling approximately 10 million square feet of building space.
Heat is one of those fundamental needs of human existence, especially for residents of northern climes, where winter brings cold temperatures for half the year. Heat is mostly an invisible item, something rarely considered until you lose it. At UMass Amherst, where more than 30,000 people live, work, and study, heating and cooling is something essential for everyone. Since the heat hissing from our radiators comes from a plant that was built many decades ago, building a new power plant was the only solution. To put it plainly, says Jim Cahill, director of Facilities and Campus Planning said “If the heating plant went inoperable for any length of time, it would be like a body shutting down. The extremities of the campus dorms in Southwest and Sylvan would feel it first, and then it would move inward. There is a real liability issue.”
The plan was to design a power plant capable of meeting campus steam and electric demands for at least 20 years with high efficiency, and make a hub of campus transportation on the site of the old coal plant. As Juanita Holler, associate vice counselor facilities & campus services said regarding the site of the coal plant “In the short term solution, as we planning on putting a temporary parking that would be available to campus to utilize… for the long term what we would like to do, is putting a multi level parking garage that could potentially attach to the existing center garage”
Building a combined heat and power facility to replace the old coal power plant was a lengthy gestation period for UMass. Central Heating Plant (CHP) can produce thermal and electric energy with the lowest achievable emissions rate, and control the send out of this energy in accordance with tightly regulated demand. To be more precise, it can produce up to 16 Megawatt and 380,000 Pounds per hour of steam. Such success like this power plant doesn’t come cheaply. The price for the total project is $118 million. But even factoring in growth of the campus, by the time the 20 years bond used to finance the project is paid in full. The new plant will still handily satisfy the university needs.
In order to achieve the emission rate, the new plant is powered by oil and natural gas .At rated output, says John Mathews, assistant director of campus projects for Facilities and Campus Planning (combined cycle journal) “CHP facility produces nearly twice the steam and five times the electric power as the power plant that it replaced—while reducing greenhouse-gas emissions on a tons-per-year basis by about 85%”. Now UMass agree that building the combined heat and power facility to replace the old coal plant was a great accomplishment for the community and the environment, by installing a regeneration system to recycle nearly 200,000 gal/day of effluent from the Amherst municipal wastewater treatment system for boiler and cooling-tower use.