Fairfield University receives $2.3 million grant from State for energy project

Fairfield University receives $2.3 million grant from State for energy project

Fairfield University has received the largest grant issued to date from the state of Connecticut under a new program stemming from the Energy Independence Act signed into law last year by Gov. M. Jodi Rell.

The grant totals $2.3 million and will cover nearly 25% of the cost of constructing a combined heat and power plant (CHP) that will power the majority of buildings on campus. The grant came from the state's Capital Grant for Customer-Side Distributed Generation Resources program, which awards grants to corporations and schools who are working to provide some or all of their power via generators in an effort to cut down on the strain to the power grid.

Ric Taylor, associate vice president for campus planning and operations, said the CHP project will provide about 99% of the campus' electricity and 70 percent of its heating load. "We were delighted with being awarded this grant as it will assist us in our ongoing efforts to be energy smart. Our CHP project is a win-win situation for Fairfield University, the state and our community. We believe that it is of utmost concern that we be part of the solution to the growing energy challenges faced by society. At the same time, it is an opportunity for the university to continue to be forward-thinking and on the cutting edge of facing rising power costs head on. Most importantly, our project will employ technology that is very efficient and will lessen pollution."

The $9.5 million project is underway and is being done in collaboration with United Technologies Carrier. A 3,000 square-foot addition to the existing Central Utility Facility located on campus is being built. It has received Board of Trustees and town approval and is slated for completion in early spring.

The CHP Project will enable the university to produce its own electricity via a turbine. The byproduct created is called rejected heat, which will be captured to heat and cool a large percentage of the structures in the center of campus.

Via the university's Central Utility Facility, the university has been producing its heat and cooling since 1960, but has relied on outside sources for electricity.

William Lucas, vice president for finance and administration and treasurer, said other universities involved in co-generation include Bucknell University, Clemson University, Central and Eastern Michigan universities, Rutgers University, and the University of Illinois. "This project will enable us to better control our destiny in terms of electricity needs and place us among leading institutions who have adopted similar approaches. We will be using improved technologies, controlling costs and, in addition, have a cleaner operating facility."

Beryl Lyons, a spokesperson for the state Department of Public Utility Control, said the purpose of the state program is to make Connecticut more energy independent, and to reduce the impact of Federally Mandated Congestion Charges on Connecticut ratepayers. The size of the grants is directly related to how much generation is produced, she added.

Posted On: 09-29-2006 10:09 AM

Volume: 39 Number: 43