As it approaches five decades of service, the Atkinson Heat and Power Plant provides electricity, heating and cooling for about 3 million square feet of academic, research, office and housing space at the UAF campus in Fairbanks. Our programs serve thousands throughout Alaska, and our 17,000 alumni live and work in communities throughout the state. Our heat and power plant is the foundation of UAF’s statewide research, teaching and service missions.

Combined heat and power is key

University leaders made a wise decision when they built our heat and power plant. The cogeneration approach was and still is the most efficient way to use fuel, because the combustion process creates two products: heat and electricity. We get the most energy we can from the fuel we burn. 

Aging infrastructure

Despite excellent maintenance, the plant is nearing the end of its useful life. The main boilers at the plant were installed in 1964, and both maintenance costs and the risk of catastrophic failure are increasing. With that looming, we studied a wide variety of options and spoke with professionals in the energy and environmental communities. Our best solution was a major plant upgrade, including replacement of our main coal boilers. This project is the cornerstone of a strong and diverse energy portfolio for the next 50 years.

Employee inspecting coal furnace


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