Cogeneration dropped; steam production only

Washington State University officials report they will begin plans to develop a steam-only energy plant. The plant, first proposed as a cogeneration facility that would create steam and electricity, has become too expensive.

“We are planning to move forward with a steam-only plant,” reported Greg Royer, vice president for Business Affairs. “The latest report we had stated that the cogeneration plant costs would run about $15 million more than previously estimated. We also learned there would be costs of $10 million more in electrical infrastructure work required to support the plant.

“At this price, the combined heat and power project is no longer economically viable,” the vice president added.

Royer said the university will soon begin to seek bids for a steam-only plant.

“We feel we must begin the process to build an energy plant right away,” Royer said. “We must improve our existing plant as soon as possible to preserve the university’s teaching, research and outreach mission.”

The proposed location is still on Grimes Way, just past Observation Road. It will be fueled by natural gas with a fuel-oil backup. The new plant will consist of steam-producing boilers with a 2.5-megawatt generator for electricity, similar to the current plant. About 90 percent of the university’s electricity will continue to be provided by Avista. The new plant will be owned by the university and operated by WSU employees.

Royer said the private company that would have partnered with WSU for the cogeneration plant agreed with the university’s decision.

“Trigen officials also said it isn’t the best time to undertake such a project,” Royer said.

If the planning process continues smoothly, WSU should have a new energy plant in early 2005.

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