Fairfield University receives $2.3 million grant for CHP power plant


Green grant
The United Illuminating Company (UI) presented a check for $2.3 million to Fairfield University for its ambitious, eco-friendly combined heat and power plant (CHP). (L-R) Anthony J. Vallillo, president and chief operating officer of UI; Fairfield University President Rev. Jeffrey P. von Arx, S.J.; and Commissioner Anthony J. Palermino from the State of Connecticut Department of Public Utility Control.

On Monday, January 14, The United Illuminating Company (UI) presented a check for $2.3 million to Fairfield University President Rev. Jeffrey P. von Arx, S.J. The grant was received for the University's ambitious, eco-friendly combined heat and power plant (CHP). The grant will cover nearly 25 percent of Fairfield's CHP construction costs.

Commissioner Anthony J. Palermino from the State of Connecticut Department of Public Utility Control was on hand for the check presentation ceremony. Also attending were numerous Fairfield University administrators who were instrumental in the project. They included William J. Lucas, treasurer and vice president for finance and administration; Mark C. Reed, vice president for administrative services and student affairs; William J. Auger, manager of energy services and John Tedesco, supervisor of electricians.

Anthony J. Vallillo, president and chief operating officer of UI, attended the ceremony with several key UI employees who were responsible for assisting Fairfield's team with interconnecting to the electrical grid, including Tom Marella, strategic account manager; Don Perkins, customer lead engineer; and Jim Mader, manager of distributed generation.

Mr. Vallillo said, "The installation of the combined heat and power plant is a wise decision by Fairfield University. It benefits the University, the environment and will help reduce the demand on the region's electric grid."

The CHP plant, which was up and running in late fall of 2007, is part of the University's effort to create its own energy source, reduce its carbon footprint and emissions and lessen its reliance on electricity from the power grid. The plant is supplying power to the majority of buildings on the 200-acre campus.

Fr. von Arx said the CHP project is an opportunity for Fairfield University to be on the cutting edge of facing rising power costs in a progressive way. "We consider it part of our mission to undertake projects that contribute positively to the environment and our community. This is smart technology that is helping the University lessen pollution and our reliance on outside sources of energy."

Located on the Fairfield campus at the Central Utility Facility (CUF), the plant is allowing the University to produce its own electricity utilizing a turbine. The byproduct created is called rejected heat, which will be used to help heat and cool a large percentage of the campus structures.

According to Mr. Auger, the CHP is currently generating 90 percent of the total University electrical requirements. "We are also utilizing the heat exhaust from the turbine via a waste heat recovery boiler to supply 33 to 66 percent, depending on outside temperature, of the Central Utility Facility heat loop. This heat loop supplies our largest energy demand buildings. It does all of this at a much reduced air emission rate and a higher efficiency rate than our previous systems."

The grant stems from the State of Connecticut's Capital Grant for Customer-Side Distributed Generation Resources program. This program, administered through UI, awards grants to assist with the costs of installing customer-owned electric generating equipment.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on January 14, 2008

Vol. 40, No. 154