Q: Why does Michigan State University have its own power plant?
A: In 1855, when Michigan State University opened, all of the buildings were heated with wood fireplaces. After a series of fires, in 1890, MSU built a central power plant to provide heat for the buildings. The video below will provide more information. Alternatively, you can click here to download a transcript of the interview in Word 2003 format.
Q: How does MSU's power plant utilize steam to generate power?
A: The boilers of the power plant generate steam which then passes through the turbine generator. When the steam passes through the turbine generator, electricity and the steam heats the campus. The video below discusses more in depth how the power plant boilers utilizes steam. Alternatively, you can click here to download a transcript of the interview in Word 2003 format.
Q: What kind of power plant does MSU have?
A: Michigan State University has a co-generation plant, the T.B. Simon Power Plant, which generates all steam, heat and electricity for the University.
The video below will discuss co-generation in more detail. Alternatively, you can click here to download a transcript of the interview in Word 2003 format.
Q: Can you describe the utility system that we have on campus?
A: Michigan State University uses a combination of steam, water and electric lines that run underground to MSU's central water plant and central power plant. The video below explains the utility system that MSU uses. Alternatively, you can click here to download a transcript of the interview in Word 2003 format.
Q: How efficient is the power plant?
A: The T.B. Simon Power Plant can produce 1.3 million pounds of steam per hour and 100 megawatts, making it one of the top 500 generating power plants in America. The co-generation facility operates at approximately 60 percent efficiency, while conventional electric power plants operate at 30 percent efficiency. The efficiency of the power plant works to reduce utility costs, as explained in the video below. Alternatively, you can click here to download a transcript of the interview in Word 2003 format.
Q: How is the coal used? How much coal does MSU burn each year?
A: Coal is dumped from an automatic scale in 200-pound batches into the mills, where it is ground to fineness, resembling baby powder.
The steam electricity is distributed from the power plant to MSU's campus through steam tunnels and electrical lines. Approximately 250,000 tons of coal is burned each year. For a visual representation, check out an animated process video here.
Q: What are some of the other features of the power plant?
A: There are four boilers inside the power plant, and two steam lines. We have two steam lines to ensure that, in case one line needs to be serviced, the campus will never be without heat.
Q: What are the benefits of the power plant?
A: Some of the benefits of the power plant are increased reliability and lower cost. Because the T.B. Simon Power Plant has an underground system, traditional storm damage is also avoided. The video below explains additional benefits of the T.B. Simon Power Plant. Alternatively, you can click here to download a transcript of the interview in Word 2003 format.
Q: How does the power plant use natural gas?
A: The power plant's use of natural gas is based on the cost of fuels, the need to meet demands during periods of coal system unavailability and the maintenance of plant combustion stability. MSU's generator and steam turbine was recently awarded the 2007 Pacesetter Plant Award from Combined Circle Journal for its high-efficiency and clean production.
Q: Where can I find detailed information about the air emissions from the power plant?
A: Reports on the air emissions from the power plant are available at the Department of Environmental Quality's website. The DEQ uses the Michigan Air Emissions Reporting System (MAERS) for its reporting. For a listing of the power plant emissions reports going back to 1999, click here.
Q: How are MSU's water needs met?
A: The university's water needs are supplied by the Saginaw Aquifer, a deep sandstone formation that lies beneath much of central Michigan's Lower Peninsula. This water is used for drinking, washing, bathing, irrigation, and steam to make electricity and to heat and cool the campus infrastructure. Water quality measurements are performed regularly and our water meets or exceeds all State of Michigan and EPA standards.
Q: What is MSU's water treatment process like?
A: The water treatment process takes the water through a reservoir, to campus buildings and then back through to the power plant.
Q: How is MSU's Physical Plant helping to protect water supplies?
A: MSU's Wellhead Protection Plan was approved by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality in 2000 and updated in 2006. MSU has been designated a Groundwater Guardian (GG) community by the Groundwater Foundation since 2001. GG is a national program that recognizes communities for proactive groundwater protection activities.