Iowa regents approve new power plant for UI campus


The current main power plant for the University of Iowa sits along the Iowa City on Burlington Street. (Facilities Management/University of Iowa)
The current main power plant for the University of Iowa sits along the Iowa River on Burlington Street. (UI Facilities Management)

Nick Fetty | March 13, 2015

Earlier this week the Iowa Board of Regents approved plans for a $75 million power plant to provide energy for buildings on the west side of the University of Iowa’s campus.

Similar to the current UI Power Plant, the West Campus Energy Plant will create steam to power heating, cooling, and sterilization systems. The new plant is expected to be able to create up to 300,000 pounds of steam per hour, slightly less than the 480,000 pounds of steam per hour the current plant produces.

“The University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics, research and residential services require continuous, uninterrupted supplies of steam,” said Glen Mowery, director of Utilities and Energy Management, during in an interview with the UI’s news service Iowa Now. “The new plant will not only ensure continuity of services to our most critical health and research facilities, but also provide back-up service to both sides of campus while providing the most flexibility in fuel sources.”

The new plant will be able to provide power for the entire campus in the event of flood waters inundating the old facility or during potential grid failure. Additionally, the new plant will be able to utilize currently existing rail and truck lines to provide a direct supply of biomass fuel which is part of the UI’s 2020 Vision.

The proposal calls for the plant to be constructed northwest of the Finkbine Commuter Lot between Hawkins Drive and Finkbine Golf Course. Construction is expected to begin in two years and the facility should be operational by 2019.

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