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Rutgers prepares to upgrade on-campus cogeneration plants

At its meeting on April 6, the Rutgers Board of Governors voted in favor of a $74.5 million upgrade to Rutgers’ cogeneration plants. Upgrading these facilities would help the University to operate more efficiently and produce fewer emissions. – Photo by Nikhilesh De

The Rutgers Board of Governors approved of a $74.5 million upgrade to the University’s cogeneration plants in New Brunswick and Newark at their last meeting on April 6.

The New Brunswick Cogeneration Plant was built in 1995, and uses three dual-fuel five-megawatt turbines to power the Busch and Livingston campuses, according to a previous article by The Daily Targum.

The Newark plant was built in 1987 and does not operate at peak performance due to its age, according to TAPinto New Brunswick. At present, it operates at about 60 percent of full capacity.

According to the 2015 Targum article, the Busch plant operates somewhere between 60 and 80 percent capacity.

Upgrading the facilities will allow them to generate more electricity while producing fewer emissions and acting more efficiently, according to a pair of Rutgers resolutions.

All three of the turbines on Busch and three in Newark will be replaced during this process. Among other changes, the upgraded plants will not use a nitrogen oxide reduction component which is now outlawed, according to the resolutions.

The Busch plant will require about $30 million to upgrade but is expected to save about $2.86 million per year in energy costs and credits from the government.

The Newark plant will cost the remaining $44.5 million, but will also save nearly $3 million per year after the upgrades are completed.

In order to finance the projects, Rutgers will require both loans and grants from the state of New Jersey, along with funds from PSE&G. University Hospital in Newark will pay just over $2 million of the cost for the northern facility.

The $2 million is roughly equal to 27 percent of the total cost Rutgers—Newark is financing by itself for their plant, which is about how much energy from the facility they use, according to TAPinto.

The Busch plant was originally meant to be three water boilers but was later converted into a power plant, according to the Targum article. As a result, it produces both energy and hot water for the Busch and Livingston campuses.

The plant normally burns natural gas to create electricity for the campuses. Water is heated using excess heat produced as a byproduct of energy generation, according to the article.

In 2000, the plant was recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its cogeneration efforts with a Combined Heat and Power Certificate.

While the plant does produce exhaust emissions, the levels are monitored and kept in accordance with state standards.

Nikhilesh De is a correspondent for The Daily Targum. He is a School of Arts and Sciences senior. Follow him on Twitter @nikhileshde for more.

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